Opioids are narcotic pain medications, such as codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone and morphine, that reduce pain by blocking messages to the brain, notes WebMD. Opioids have serious side effects if people do not take them correctly.
Doctors may prescribe opioids for patients to take as needed for pain or in doses that are taken over the course of an entire day, states WebMD. People should regularly talk to their doctors about how their pain is responding to opioids, any side effects or drug interactions that they are experiencing, and whether or not they are taking the drugs properly. Constipation, nausea and drowsiness are side effects of opioids, but patients should check with their doctors before quitting these medications, as opioids can cause drug dependence, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms upon quitting, such as diarrhea, vomiting, muscle pain, anxiety and irritability.
Long-term use of opioids can also lead to a drug tolerance, in which more of the drug is required to have the same effect, according to WebMD. People who take opioids may also become addicted and take the drugs compulsively, leading to problems with their lives and work. People addicted to opioids may need the services of addiction specialists to discontinue use of the drugs safely.