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Opioids are a group of drugs that includes products such as morphine, heroin, methadone, fentanyl and oxycodone. This group of drugs is often prescribed to manage pain. Opioids can cause euphoria (feeling of being high), which increases the potential for the drugs to be used improperly.
Opioids include three categories of pain-relieving drugs:
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Other drugs from the same group, such as carfentanil, can be 10,000 times more powerful than morphine (for those who have not built a tolerance to the drug).
As stated by the Government of Canada (2021), opioids are intended to treat pain. Doctors may also sometimes prescribe them for other conditions, such as moderate to severe diarrhea, or moderate to severe cough.
If you have been prescribed an opioid medicine, it should:
Prescription opioid medications are available in various forms, such as:
However, in the case of illegal drugs it is not always possible to determine if other components have been added. Fentanyl, for example, has no taste or smell. However, only a few grains (similar to grains of salt) can cause severe harm, including death. In some cases, fentanyl is found in counterfeit pills that are made to look like prescription opioids, and it can be mixed with other drugs such as heroin or cocaine.
Opioid use can be a concern in the workplace for several reasons:
The Government of Canada suggests:
Keep your medication safe to help prevent problematic use by others by:
Unused portions of opioid medicine should always be: