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What Pills are Opiates?

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Opiates are the naturally occurring alkaloid chemicals found in the opium poppy plant,Papaver somniferum, including morphine, codeine, and thebaine. More commonly, the term is used to describe pills containing these alkaloids and the many other semi-synthetic and synthetic drugs that are able to produce similar psychoactive effects.

Opiates are essential in the management of pain conditions when over the counter analgesics prove ineffective. They also produce the pleasurable sensations of calming and relaxation in addition to numbing pain. In high enough doses, opiate pills produce euphoria and their abuse and dependency potentials may lead to high rates of addiction and overdose.

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According to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, “Excluding distilled spirits, the first addictive ingredient isolated from a natural product was morphine, which was extracted from crude opium by F.W.A. Serturner, a German pharmacist, in 1806.” Morphine is the most abundant alkaloid content of opium that is used to make many precursors for the semi-synthetic opiates including heroin, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone.

Morphine’s structure closely resembles and mimics endogenous morphine, or endorphins, we produce naturally in response to pain, excitement, exercise, orgasms, and other behaviors that bear repeating. It is the standard by which the relative potencies of other opiates are compared and they typically convert back to when being metabolized.

Generic morphine pills include:

  • Astramorph
  • Avinza
  • MSContin
  • Oramorph
  • Sevredol

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While codeine is widely used in many pills and a naturally available source in opium, much of the codeine used in pharmaceuticals comes from the morphine content. With varying degrees of potency, codeine can be found in many combination products with other analgesics such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen.

The most common brands of codeine pills include:

  • Codeine 15, 30, or 60 mg tablets
  • Fioricet
  • Fiorinal
  • Tylenol with Codeine #3 and #4
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Oxycodone and Oxymorphone

what are opiates

Most prescription painkillers are opiates.

Oxycodone is synthesized from the alkaloid chemical, thebaine, and in comparison to morphine, it is 1.5X as potent while oxymorphone is up to 7X as potent. These semi-synthetic opiates are available under numerous brand names and in extended or controlled release versions to provide long-lasting pain relief.

Common oxycodone and oxymorphone pills include:

  • Generic oxycodone combinations with aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen
  • Roxicodone
  • Roxicet
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Percodan
  • Tylox
  • Oxecta
  • Opana (oxymorphone)
  • Numorphan (oxymorphone)
  • Nymorphone (oxymorphone)


Hydrocodone products are often combined with other analgesics and prior to 2014 many of them were classified as Schedule III medications under the controlled substance schedules of the DEA, easily obtainable after minor surgeries or dental visits. Today, like other opiate pills, they are classified as schedule II substances for their risks of abuse and dependency potentials. The most common hydrocodone pills include:

  • Vicodin
  • Vicoprofen
  • Maxidone
  • Norco
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab

Other Opiate Pills

There are many other opiate pills including wide variations of semi-synthetic and synthetic opiates including:

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