Opioids are substances that mainly act on receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. These receptors mediate both the mind-changing and bodily effects of opioids. Opioids are mostly prescribed to provide pain relief. They can also be prescribed to treat diarrhoea or induce cough suppression.
Opioids are frequently used recreationally for their euphoric effects. They can be ingested orally, injected, or snorted. Opioids include substances such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Side effects of opioids may include itchiness, sedation, nausea, respiratory depression, constipation, and intense feelings of happiness.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 47,000 prescription or opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States in 2018. Heroin was involved in approximately 16,000 deaths, and prescription painkillers were involved in approximately 15,000 deaths. The opioid crisis was declared a nationwide Public Health Emergency on October 27, 2017.