Treating pain: Types of pain for which opioids may be prescribed
Opioid medications, commonly called narcotics, are derived from the poppy plant. Some opioids are available as prescription medications. They are regulated as controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration. A health care provider must have a special license to prescribe these opioids. Other opioids, such as heroin, are illegal under all circumstances and have no legitimate medical purpose.
Long-term use of opioids can lead to physical tolerance, misuse, addiction and unintentional overdose. In recent years, the use of opiods has increased steadily. These drugs are responsible for most overdose deaths related to prescription drugs in the U.S.
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