Opioids are drugs and medicines derived from the opium poppy. They include heroin, morphine, and a range of pain control medications that are commonly prescribed by doctors, especially for patients with chronic pain. When used as instructed, they are safe and effective, but because they are so powerful, the potential for abuse is great. People who misuse opioids or ignore their doctor's warnings about them may find themselves addicted or worse. Whether these drugs are obtained on the street, at home, or from a friend's medicine cabinet, they pose a serious danger to health and wellness and can even lead to death when overdosed. News outlets across the United States regularly report about an "opioid epidemic," illustrating how widespread and severe this problem has become. Before you even consider using one of these drugs other than as prescribed by a doctor, it's important to know all the facts so you can make a smart choice for your future.