Prescription Pain Relievers (Opioids)

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What are some brand names and slang terms for prescription pain relievers?
Codeine, Fentanyl, OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin. Jump to the table below for a more complete list >>
What are they?
Pain-relieving drugs either naturally derived from poppy flowers or lab-made, semi-synthetic substitutes. They work by attaching to particular sites in the brain called opioid receptors, which carry messages to the brain. The message the brain receives is changed, so that pain is no longer perceived as painful. Medications are often formulated in combination with other substances, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.1

What do they look like?
Primarily tablets and capsules.

How are they used?
Medically, they are prescribed as analgesics, to treat pain.1

What do young people hear about them?
In addition to relieving pain, prescription pain relievers can also cause euphoria or feelings of well being.

What are the risks?
Prescription opioids are powerful drugs with a high risk for dependency. Taking them in high doses, and/or in combination with other substances — particularly alcohol — can result in life-threatening respiratory distress and death.

Prescription pain relievers can cause drowsiness, constipation and slowed breathing. Taking a large single dose of prescription pain relievers can cause severe respiratory depression (slowed breathing) that can lead to death. Use of prescription pain relievers with other substances that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or general anesthetics, increases the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression.

Recent research suggests that, as a whole, opioids are not significantly better than non-opioid pain relievers in relieving acute and chronic pain.2 This means that alternative options should first be explored with healthcare providers. If those first-line options are not effective, taken exactly as prescribed, opioid pain relievers can manage pain effectively.

But chronic use or misuse of opioids can result in physical dependence and addiction. Dependence means that the body adapts to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped. Tolerance to the drugs’ effects also occurs with long-term use, so a person misusing prescription opioids must take higher doses to achieve the same or similar effects as experienced initially. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use.

The epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and abuse has led to increased use of heroin.

Brand Names & Slang Terms

 Generic Drug Composition Brand Name Street Names / Slang Terms
Hydrocodone/Ibuprofen Vicoprofen, Ibudone, Reprexain
Ibuprofen/Oxycodone Combunox
Chlorpheniramine/Hydrocodone TussiCaps
Acetaminophen/Oxycodone Xolox, Tylox, Magnacet, Endocet, Primlev, Roxicet, Percocet Percs
 Aspirin/Oxycodone Endodan
Atropine/Difenoxin Motofen
Tramadol Ryzolt, ConZip, Ultram
 Hydromorphone Dilaudid, Palladone, Exalgo D, Dillies, Footballs, Juice, Smack
 Hydromorphone Dilaudid, Palladone, Exalgo D, Dillies, Footballs, Juice, Smack
Pentazocine Talwin
Meperidine Demerol Demmies, Pain Killer
Buprenorphine Buprenex, Butrans
Tepentadol Nucynta
Oxymorphone Opana Biscuits, Blue Heaven, Blues, Mrs. O, O Bomb, Octagons, Stop Signs
Remifentanil Ultiva
Acetaminophen/Hydrocodone Norco, Lortab, Hycet, Zolvit, Zydone, Lorcet, Maxidone, Co-gesic, Liquicet, Xodol, Vicodin, Stagesic, Zamicet Vike
Morphine/Naltrexone Embeda
Fentanyl Sublimaze, Abstral, Subsys, Duragesic, Ionsys Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, Tango and Cash, TNT
Morphine Infumorph, Astramorph, Duramorph, DepoDur M, Miss Emma, Monkey, White Stuff, Dreamer, Emsel, First Line, God’s Drug, Hows, M.S., Mister Blue, Morf, Morpho
Codeine Captain Cody, Cody, Lean, Schoolboy, Sizzurp, Purple Drank
Sufentanil Sufenta
Alfentanil Alfenta
Hydrocodone/Pseudophedrine Rezira
Oxycodone Roxicodone, Oxycontin, Oxecta O.C., Oxycet, Oxycotton, Oxy, Hillbilly Heroin, Percs
1NIDA. “Opioids.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, , Accessed 2 Nov. 2018.
2Shah A, Hayes CJ, Martin BC. Characteristics of Initial Prescription Episodes and Likelihood of Long-Term Opioid Use — United States, 2006–2015. MWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:265–269. DOI:
Sources: U.S. National Library of Medicine; National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Reviewed & Updated: October 3, 2018
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