Common Types of Opioids

November 6, 2019. Article by: Government of BC

Opioids are a group of substances with pain-relieving properties. They come in many different types, strengths, and forms and are mostly prescribed by doctors as pain medication. For example, codeine is an opioid that is often prescribed for mild to moderate pain.

Fentanyl is also an opioid – one that is stronger and more toxic than other opioids. Fentanyl can be prescribed for chronic pain, but illicitly-produced fentanyl has been responsible for more than 80% of overdose deaths in B.C. since the start of 2016.

Some common opioids include:

  • Codeine
  • Morphine, also known as M, Morph, Red Rockets
  • OxyCodone, which is prescribed under brand names including OxyContin, OxyNeo, and Percocet. Other common names include: oxy, OC, percs
  • Hydromorphone, which is prescribed under brand names including Dilaudid and Hydromorph Contin. Other common names include: dilos, hydro, juice, dillies, dust
  • Methadone, which is prescribed under the brand name Methadose and can be used to treat Opioid Use Disorder

These opioids are typically prescribed as medications to treat a range of conditions and disorders.

Other opioids include:

  • Heroin. Also known as smack, point, hard stuff and jazz  
  • Fentanyl
  • Carfentanil

Heroin and fentanyl are also sometimes prescribed by healthcare professionals. However, carfentanil is a tranquilizer for large animals. It has been found in other substances, including heroin and fentanyl, that have been obtained from the unregulated, unpredictable and highly toxic drug supply. Both carfentanil and fentanyl are contributing to overdose deaths in B.C.

Most people use opioid medications safely and correctly to manage a range of conditions. However, using opioids can come with risks. People who have prescriptions for opioid medications can manage those risks by working with their doctor or pharmacist.

Some people use opioids without prescriptions.

This is very dangerous.

Medications obtained from anywhere other than a healthcare professional are part of the unregulated, unpredictable and highly toxic drug supply. Using these substances comes with increased risks, including accidentally taking fentanyl or carfentanil, which could lead to overdose.

Drug checking services can help people find out if a substance contains fentanyl or other contaminants to make informed decisions that reduce these risks.

Find drug checking and other life-saving services.

Taking opioids with other substances, including alcohol and benzodiazepines, also puts people at a higher risk of overdose. This is because opioids, alcohol and benzodiazepines are depressants that slow down important bodily functions such as breathing. Combining these substances can build these effects and therefore increase the risk of overdose.

Watch the video below to learn how to identify and respond to an overdose.

Are you, or do you know someone experiencing substance use challenges?