By Allison Kozicharow; Edited by Elizabeth Fine
What are opioids?
Opioids are man-made and natural drugs used to treat pain. Most opioids are prescribed legally by doctors to treat very bad pain after surgery or for long-term pain management. But opioids:
- Are often misused,
- Are highly addictive,
- Can lead to the use of illegal street drugs (such as heroin or fentanyl) and
- Can result in many negative effects on the body, including death.
WiRED International’s module on opioids describes the drug from A to Z: its origins, what it does to the body and especially the brain, its short- and long-term effects, how its use can become an addiction, overdoses and the resulting global opioid epidemic.
Today opioid addiction is a threat to health worldwide. The Lancet reports that “60,000,000 people struggle with the addictive effects of opioids and more than 100,000 people die every year of opioid overdose.” Indeed, one of the top issues of the recent meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping was curbing drug trafficking for fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
Learn more about opioids by taking a look at WiRED’s interactive and animated module as we continue to follow and report about opioid trends globally.