Facts About Opioids

Facts About Opioids

Prescription opioids are used mostly to help relieve moderate to severe pain and are often prescribed following a surgery or injury. Opioids are also sometimes prescribed for certain health conditions.

Opioids fall into the following five categories:

  • Natural opioids (including morphine and codeine)
  • Semi-synthetic opioids (drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, andoxymorphone)
  • Methadone (synthetic)
  • Synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs like tramadol and fentanyl)
  • Heroin, an illicit (illegally made) opioid made from morphine that can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance.

Discover more on the basics of opioids at:

Opioids, often referred to in slang terms as Oxy, Percs and Vikes, are highly addictive, are dangerous if misused and can lead to an overdose or even death. According to the CDC, an average of 136 people die every day from opioid overdoses.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Because of its strength, it has been used to increase the potency of other drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, often leading to deadly results.

Fentanyl cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. It only takes a very small dose of fentanyl, 2 milligrams, to be lethal. That is equivalent to just 10 to 15 grains of table salt. Only a couple of specks of fentanyl can be deadly.

Photo Courtesy of Drug Enforcement Administration
Photo Courtesy of Drug Enforcement Administration

The drug is also being made and pressed into fake pills to look like OxyContin®, Xanax®, Adderall®, and other prescribed medicines. A shocking 40% of counterfeit pills tested by the DEA contained a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.

Who is at risk?

Anyone obtaining and misusing fake/counterfeit pills is at risk, but especially young people.

Counterfeit pills are being circulated through peers and online channels that do not require a prescription and is now mimicking candy in a rainbow of colors, like Sweet Tarts®.

Photo Courtesy of Drug Enforcement Administration
Photo Courtesy of Drug Enforcement Administration

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing the United States. According to the CDC, 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66 percent of those deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Drug poisonings are the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45. Learn more about Fentanyl

Explore how opioids are impacting our state and specifically your parish. The Louisiana Opioid Data and Surveillance System is an interactive system that allows you to look at trends, such as prescriptions, hospitalizations, treatments and deaths, over the past few years.