Opioids are a group of drugs that are synthetically derived from the poppy plant. Most opioids are prescription painkillers that should not be taken wrongly.
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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) uses the term opioid to describe a class of substances known for their pain-relieving and addictive properties.1 The DEA uses a scheduling system to describe the potential risks, medical benefits, and legal classification of psychoactive substances, such as opioids.
Opioid substances can come in natural or synthetic, laboratory-made forms. Trying to identify the wide variety of opioids, legal and illegal, by name can cause confusion or uncertainty.1,2 The following list of opioids describes some of the most prominent substances in this class.
In this article:
- Opioid Overdose Symptoms
- Detox and Addiction Treatment
Used as a medication for the treatment of mild to moderate pain symptoms, codeine comes in a variety of forms.3 Prescribers may offer this medication under multiple brand names. Brand-name medications containing codeine (plus other substances) include:
- Potassium Iodide
- Salicylic acid
Street names for codeine and codeine-combination narcotics include:4
- Captain Cody
- Doors and Fours
- Pancakes and Syrup
- Purple Drank
Codeine and codeine-based medications can come in liquid, tablet, or capsule formulas.4 People may attempt to inject this medication or drink it mixed with flavored beverages.4 The DEA accepts codeine as having some medical benefit despite the risks associated with misuse.4
An opioid known for its potency, fentanyl also has some recognized medical benefits, according to the DEA.1 This medication has effects similar to other substances on this opioids list. Fentanyl sets itself apart from other opioids due to the strength of its effects as well as the increased rates of overdose related to fentanyl use.
Fentanyl comes in several forms, such as lozenges, tablets, mouth sprays, nasal sprays, patches, and injectable solutions. When manufactured and sold on illegal markets, fentanyl can come in the form of powder or counterfeit pills.1
People often misuse this medication by snorting, smoking, injecting, soaking blotter paper, modifying patches, or consuming it by mouth. People may sell or misuse fentanyl under street names such as:1
- Tango and Cash
- Murder 8
- King Ivory
- Dance Fever
- China Town
- China Girl
- Great Bear
Heroin has a strictly illegal status, according to the DEA.1 People use heroin by smoking, snorting, and injecting it. Many heroin dealers cut this medication with other substances, diluting the purity and increasing the amount they can sell. They may also cut it with fentanyl, unbeknownst to the individual buying and using the heroin, which could have fatal consequences. People sell heroin under street names such as:1,4
- Hell Dust
- Brown Sugar
- Black Tar
- White Horse
- Big H
Sold under brand names, such as Hysingla, Norco, Vicodin, and Zohydro, the DEA recognizes hydrocodone as having some therapeutic benefits.4 Doctors may prescribe this medication to treat severe levels of pain in doses that one can take for “around-the-clock” pain management.5 Available in extended-release tablets and capsules, hydrocodone formulas offer a long-acting release effect.
Taking this medication in higher than prescribed doses or modifying the tablets can result in misuse and addiction.6 People may sell or misuse this medication under street names such as:4
People who misuse hydrocodone may swallow, snort, or inject it to become intoxicated.4
Available under the brand name Dilaudid, doctors may prescribe this medication as capsules, tablets, injectable solutions, oral solutions, or rectal suppositories.4 Despite known risks for misuse, addiction, and overdose, the DEA acknowledges the medical benefits of hydromorphone.1 This medication has a higher potency than morphine, which contributes to the risks of addiction and negative health consequences when misused.
Street names for hydromorphone include:1
Another opioid medication prescribed for moderate to severe pain, people can take meperidine in tablet and liquid form.4,7 People who misuse this medication may snort, inject, or take it by mouth.4 Meperidine also goes by other names such as:4,7
- Pain Killer
Despite the risks of misuse, the DEA has approved meperidine for medicinal purposes.4
Initially developed as a substitute for morphine, methadone now serves as a synthetic opioid medication used in detoxification and opioid use disorder maintenance treatment. Recommended strictly for use in authorized facilities, the DEA classifies methadone as having a high risk for misuse despite its medically approved uses.1
Street names for methadone include:1,4
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Jungle Juice
This medication comes in tablet formulas, oral liquids, and injectable solutions. Despite chemical differences between methadone and heroin or morphine, the DEA notes that these substances have similar effects on your mind and body.1,4
Morphine is available in several formulas and is prescribed for pain management.1,4 Doctors may prescribe this medication as extended-release pills, tablets, capsules, suppositories, or liquid solutions.4 Brand names for morphine include:1,4
- Oramorph SR
People who illegally sell or misuse this medication may do so using street names such as:4
- Mister Blue
- God’s Drug
- Miss Emma
- White Stuff
- First Line
- Joy Juice
People who misuse morphine may smoke, snort, or inject this medication to achieve intoxication.1
A natural opioid, opium can come in different forms such as solutions, powders, or a solid substance.1 Many opium-based substances have approval for medicinal use per DEA standards, while others do not. Some street names for opium include:1
- Pen Yan
- Pin Gon
- Chinese Tobacco
- Dream Gun
- Big O
- Aunt Emma
Oxycodone has several prescription medication forms, such as extended-release tablets and capsules as well as liquid solutions.8 The DEA notes that oxycodone has significant popularity in communities of people who misuse opioids.1 Prescribed for its pain-relieving effects, doctors may offer this medication under several brand names including:1,4
Street names for oxycodone include:1,4
- Hillbilly Heroin
People may misuse this medication by taking it by mouth, injecting it, or smoking it.1 People who inject this medication may attempt to crush and dissolve it in water. Others may snort this medication after crushing it.
If you need opioid medications to manage pain symptoms ranging from moderate to severe, doctors may prescribe oxymorphone.9 Prescribed under brand name Opana and in extended-release formulas, this medication has several street names including:4,9
- Blue Heaven
- O Bomb
- Stop Signs
- Mrs. O
People may inject, snort, or swallow this medication to misuse it.4
Opioid Overdose Symptoms
This opioid list provides information on some of the opioid-class medications and substances used and misused by the public. Anyone misusing or abusing opioids faces the risk of experiencing serious health concerns, including fatal overdose.2 Overdose occurs if you take too much of a medication, intentionally or accidentally, and begin to develop potentially life-threatening symptoms.10 Symptoms of opioid overdose include:2
- Difficulty breathing
- Complete inability to breath
- Slowing or stopped heart rate
- Limp body
- Weakened muscles
- Lips or fingernails turning blue or purple
Overdose constitutes an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.2 Naloxone can serve as an antidote that counters the effects of opioid overdose. Both emergency medical responders and members of the public can administer naloxone during an opioid overdose.
Detox and Addiction Treatment
If you misuse opioids, you run the risk of developing cravings or a compulsive desire to use more of these substances.6 Sometimes, people may want to use opioids despite the risks to their health. They may spend a significant amount of time seeking opioids, even from illicit sources. When you develop an opioid addiction or opioid use disorder, treatment can offer a way to quit using drugs.
From withdrawal management in a detox program to long-term care, treatment options exist to support your unique needs in substance use recovery.11 Various therapeutic interventions include:
- Individual counseling
- Connection with medical providers
- Case management services
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
- Peer or mutual support groups
- Stress management
- Skills training
- Relapse prevention planning
If you have concerns about using or misusing any of the substances included on this opioids list, professionals can help you get started on the path to recovery. An assessment by a licensed substance use treatment provider can help you get matched with the level of care you need.11
If you need support, get connected today. Call 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) to speak with a treatment specialist about your options for recovery.
- Drug Enforcement Administration Community Outreach and Prevention Support Section. (2020). Drugs of abuse: A DEA resource guide/2020 edition. U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018, April 18). Opioid misuse and addiction. MedlinePlus.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020, December 15). Codeine. MedlinePlus.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, August 20). Commonly used drugs charts.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, January 15). Hydrocodone. MedlinePlus.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Substance-related and addictive disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, February 15). Meperidine. MedlinePlus.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, February 15). Oxycodone. MedlinePlus.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, February 15). Oxymorphone. MedlinePlus.
- Hoey, N.M. (2019). Overdose. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health. Salem Press.
- Miller, W. R., Forcehimes, A. A., & Zweben, A. (2019). Treating addiction: A guide for professionals. The Guilford Press.