According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 100 people in the United States die from drug overdoses every day, and death rates as a result of drug overdoses have more than tripled since 1990. The CDC also reports that nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by opiates.
Opiates are commonly referred to as painkillers. They are derived from opium or synthetic versions of it and used in pain relief. Common opiates include Vicodin (hydrocodone), Percocet, OxyContin, oxycodone, Fentanyl, and codeine. They work by binding to the receptors in the brain to decrease the perception of pain. Side effects include sedation, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, constipation, physical dependence, tolerance, and respiratory depression.
In addition to decreasing the perception of pain, opiates can create a feeling of euphoria that some people find pleasing.
This pleasant feeling can often lead to addiction and cause physiological dependence.