Opiates, sometimes referred to as narcotics, are a group of drugs which are used medically to relieve pain, but also have a high potential for abuse. This includes Oxycontin, Vicodin and fentanyl. Some opiates come from a resin taken from the seed pod of the Asian poppy. This group of drugs includes opium, morphine, heroin, and codeine. Other opiates, such as meperidine (Demerol), are synthesized or manufactured. Opium appears as dark brown chunks or as a powder and is usually smoked or eaten. Heroin can be a white or brownish powder which is usually dissolved in water and then injected. It accounts for most of the opiate abuse in the U.S. Other opiates come in a variety of forms including capsules, tablets, syrups, solutions, and suppositories.

Effects of opiates?

Opiates tend to relax the user. When injected, the user feels an immediate rush. Other effects can include restlessness, nausea, vomiting. The user may go “on the nod” feeling alert, then drowsy. With increased frequency of use, larger amounts are needed to get the same effects, otherwise known as tolerance. With large doses, the user can’t be awakened.

How can you tell if a friend is using?

Opioids can produce the following:

  • Euphoria
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Drowsiness, lethargy
  • Constipation

Overdose signs:

  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Clammy, cool skin
  • Small pupils
  • Difficult to arouse


Prescription Drug Abuse

Narcotics Anonymous

American Society of Addiction Medicine

SMART Recovery