Opioids are a group of drugs made from plants such as the opium poppy ref=23503. They can be legal medicines (prescriptions) used for pain relief which are prescribed by a doctor (such as codeine and oxycodone), or illegal drugs, like heroin ref=23509 ref=26504 ref=23503.

Opioids are known as depressant drugs because they slow down the messages travelling between the brain and the body ref=26504.

Misuse of legal or illegal opioids can lead to health and social problems and a higher chance of death at a young age ref=23503. Opioids are highly addictive and regular use can lead to long-term problems when people become dependent on the drug.

Physical harms from opioid use include overdose, blood-borne viruses from injecting, and dental problems (opioids dry up saliva) ref=23503. If people are dependent on opioids, it can lead to depression or anxiety.

There are ways to reduce possible harms related to opioid use, such as ref=23503:

  • avoid combining opioids with other depressant drugs like alcohol or benzodiazapines
  • try safer injecting practices like using clean needles and other injecting equipment and not sharing with others
  • avoid injury by not driving or using machinery while intoxicated.

The use of opioids is associated with a number of social and economic costs, in addition to the health costs ref=23503 ref=26890. These include:

  • family and community disruption
  • harms to the welfare of children
  • drug-related crime
  • issues with money
  • contact with the criminal justice system.


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Mina Mina Jukurrpa (Mina Mina Dreaming) by Sabrina Napangardi Granites

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