What drugs are classified as opioids?

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Drugs such as morphine, codeine, and oxycodone as well as heroin and fentanyl are classified as opioids. Opioids can be further classified by their synthetics process into natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic opioids.  

Natural opioids

Examples of natural opioids include morphine, codeine, thebaine, and papaverine. Drugs that fall into this category are derived directly from the poppy plant and are also known as opiates. 

Semi-synthetic opioids

Drugs such as buprenorphine and oxycodone are considered semi-synthetic opioids. These types of opioids are man-made and are often used in clinical medicine. Heroin also falls into this category of opioids.

Synthetic opioids

Fentanyl and methadone are the most common forms of synthetic opioids. Drugs classified as synthetic opioids are manufactured in laboratories to have a similar chemical structure to natural opioids. 

Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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