About opioids

About opioids

What are opioids?

Opioids are usually prescription medications that people take to help relieve moderate to severe pain. They work by dulling your perception of pain, and are used to treat a variety of painful conditions, injuries and surgical procedures.

For example, you might be prescribed hydrocodone after a tooth extraction or Percocet after knee surgery. Opioids are effective at managing pain when used appropriately and safely. However, both prescription opioids and illegal opioids (like the street drug heroin) are commonly abused because they are so addictive.

Commonly prescribed opioids


Brand name


Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Zohydro


Percocet, OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percodan


MSContin, Kadian, Embeda, Avinza


Tylenol with Codeine, TyCo, Tylenol #3










Dolophine, Methadose


Suboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv, Bunavail, Butrans

Resources & alternatives

Looking out for signs of opioid abuse

If you or someone close to you is currently taking opioid medications, there are certain behaviors you can look out for. According to the Mayo Clinic, possible signs of opioid abuse include:

  • Taking more than the prescribed dose on a regular basis
  • Taking medication "just in case"
  • Taking medication with other drugs or alcohol
  • Using medication prescribed for others
  • Changes in mood

Getting help

Case management for Regence members

A case manager is a partner and an advocate who offers one-on-one support when you're working through health issues.

When it comes to opioid addiction, case managers can help by coordinating and communicating throughout the treatment process—for example, connecting you with a counselor, or educating family members about the nature of addiction.

Meet Trish, a Regence case manager who works closely with members dealing with opioid addiction.

Regence Case Management is not insurance, but is included with your plan. You can refer yourself or a loved one to case management. If you're interested and want to learn more, contact Customer Service.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

If you or a loved one needs help with opioid addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a national helpline that provides free, 24-hour treatment referral and information. It's completely confidential and is for individuals facing mental illness and substance abuse, as well as their family members.

The helpline provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups and community organizations.

SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Finding alternatives to opioids

For people suffering from pain, there are both non-opioid medications and non-drug treatments that can provide pain relief. You may respond best to one or a combination of treatments—talk to your doctor about what might work for you.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Acetaminophen
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Certain anti-seizure medications
  • Topical pain relievers
  • Non-drug treatments (yoga, massage, acupuncture, physical therapy)

What we're doing to help

We're committed to doing our part to decrease opioid abuse, while supporting appropriate use for people who can benefit from opioid treatment, such as those with cancer-related pain.

How we plan to meet our goals

We plan to decrease opioid abuse by:

  • Adjusting screening and prescribing guidelines
  • Improving internal policies and clinical strategies
  • Supporting legislation that helps combat prescription drug abuse

We aim to assist people with chronic pain and people with opioid-use disorders by:

  • Improving access to enhanced treatment programs such as cognitive behavioral health programs
  • Working alongside community organizations focused on addiction and youth drug prevention

By focusing on these goals, and by learning more about the problem, we can work together to address this complex and growing crisis.