Heroin, morphine, and some prescription painkillers (e.g., OxyContin, Vicodin, and Fentanyl) belong to the class of drugs known as opiates. They act on specific (opiate) receptors in the brain, which also interact with naturally produced substances known as endorphins or enkephalins– important in regulating pain and emotion. And while prescription painkillers are highly beneficial medications when used as prescribed, opiates as a general class of drugs have significant abuse liability.
The principles listed below are the result of long-term research studies on the origins of drug abuse behaviors and the common elements of effective prevention programs. These principles were developed to help prevention practitioners use the results of prevention research to address drug use among children, adolescents, and young adults in communities across the country. Parents, educators, and community leaders can use these principles to help guide their thinking, planning, selection, and delivery of drug abuse prevention programs at the community level.