The most common prescription opioids come in four categories: hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, and fentanyl. The differences between these types of opioids are rooted in their chemical structure, which affects things like their potency and their ability to be combined with other compounds, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). It also affects their price, their availability, and how addictive they are.
One thing all opioids have in common is that they are addictive. They all produce a tolerance in users when they’re taken for an extended period of time. Due to they way they interact with receptors in the brain, people eventually need to take higher and higher doses to get the same effect. They can also all be used recreationally due to the fact that they can produce a euphoric high. Even without the euphoria, these drugs tend to create a feeling of peace and happy relaxation that many people enjoy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2.1 million individuals in the US had an addiction disorder related to prescription opioids in 2012.