Expertise in Indiana Health


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain. Prescription drugs in this class include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine and methadone. Fentanyl, an especially strong opioid, is prescribed for severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. Heroin is an illegal opioid.

An opioid-use disorder is a problematic pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.

Opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in Indiana are rising quickly, and increased use of opioids is attributed to a significant increase in HIV and hepetitis C. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, a large increase in heroin-related overdose deaths occurred in Indiana from 2012 to 2016—from 114 to 297 deaths. Deaths related to synthetic opioids also increased in the same period from 43 to 304 deaths.

When a mother struggles with opioid dependence during pregnancy, the fetus is exposed to those opioids and goes through withdrawal after birth. This condition in infant is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome. In 2014, more than 600 infants were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in Indiana.