Opiates, Drugs and Information on Pain

Opioid (Narcotic) Pain Medications

How Opioids Work

Opioid drugs bind to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. They tell your brain you’re

not in pain. They are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to other pain medications.

Opioid Drugs Include (With  Generic Names):


  • Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, Abstral, Onsolis)
  • Hydrocodone (Hysingla, Zohydro ER)
  • Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • Codeine (only available in generic form)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  • Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxaydo)
  • Oxycodone and Acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet)
  • Oxycodone and Naloxone

Your doctor can prescribe most of these drugs to take by mouth.

** Fentanyl is available in a patch.  A patch allows the medication to be absorbed through the skin.


While you're on opioid pain medications, check in with your doctor regularly.

Your doctor will need to know:

  • How your pain is responding to the drug.
  • Whether you're having any side effects.
  • Whether you have any potential interactions or medical conditions
  • that could make you more likely to have side
  • effects, such as sleep apnea, alcohol use, or kidney problems.
  • Whether you're taking the drug properly.


Never change or stop taking any opioid medicine without first checking with your doctor. If a pain medication isn't

working as well as it should, your doctor may switch you to a different dose -- or add on or try another drug.

When you're ready to stop taking opioids, your doctor may help wean you off them slowly -- if you have taken them for

a long time -- to give your body time to adjust. Otherwise, you may have withdrawal symptoms.



Opioid Side Effects

One of the reasons why your doctor needs to manage pain medications so closely is that they can cause side effects,

such as:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting


The drugs lubiprostone (Amitiza), methylnaltrexone (Relistor), naldemedine (Symproic), and naloxegol (Movantik) are

approved to treat constipation due to opioid use in those with chronic pain.


Opioids can be dangerous if you take them with alcohol, or with certain drugs such as:

  • Some antidepressants
  • Some antibiotics
  • Sleeping pills


Make sure your doctor knows all of the other medicines you're taking.

That includes:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Herbal supplements


Opioid Tolerance and Addiction

After taking opioid pain medication for a while, you might find that you need more and more of the drug to achieve the

same effect in easing pain. This is called tolerance. It's not the same as addiction, which involves a compulsive use of a

drug.  When you use opioid medication over an extended period of time, you can have dependence. This can happen

when your body becomes so used to the drug that if you abruptly stop taking it, you get withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

You can also get a serious addiction to opioid pain medications. People who are addicted compulsively seek out the

pain medications. Their behavior usually leads to negative consequences in their personal lives or workplace. They

might take someone else’s pills or buy them off the street, which is especially dangerous since those drugs are often

laced with lethal amounts of fentanyl.

If you are having a problem with addiction, you need to see your doctor or an addiction specialist.


Make an Enquiry


Cauda Equina Syndrome Sufferers Global Support Group