Opioids are a type of drug used to manage pain. There are regulated (legal) opioids which are often prescribed following surgeries or injuries or as part cancer treatments. There are also unregulated (illicit) opioids which are sold as street drugs.
Opioids relieve pain by binding to nerve receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other organs. One side effect can be to depress, or slow down, a person’s breathing. They can be habit-forming.