Opioid dependence—physical addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin—affects many people in the US. Unfortunately, people who struggle with opioid dependence may be reluctant to ask for help because of the stigma attached to the notion of “drug dependence.”
Opioid dependence is a complex health condition with many elements that are caused or made worse by continued opioid use. Key elements include social, psychological, and biological components. Opioid dependence can occur as the brain adapts to the regular use of opioids over time. People who are opioid dependent may continue using opioids despite experiencing harmful consequences.
You are not alone
Opioid dependence is a chronic disease that can affect anyone. It could be a friend, a co-worker, a spouse, a brother, a sister, or a parent.
If you or someone you know may be dependent on opioids, you are not alone. In 2013, there were nearly 2.4 million reports of people† that had abused or were dependent on opioids—such as heroin—or prescription painkillers.‡
Know your opioids: Opioids can be prescription painkillers. For example, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl—better known by the brand names as OxyContin®, Vicodin®, Percocet®, and Actiq®—are opioids. The street drug heroin is also an opioid.