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Opioids and Youth

About opioids

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Opioids are a class of drugs used to help with pain. Examples are codeine, oxycodone, morphine, hydromorphone, and fentanyl. People may get them as a prescription from a doctor or buy them illegally. Illegal opioids are often not pure and can have other dangerous chemicals and drugs in them, such as carfentanil or crystal methamphetamine. When you take illegal opioids, you don’t know what you’re taking or how strong it is.

Opioid use disorder

Opioid use disorder (OUD) is when regular use of prescription or illegal opioids causes serious problems in your life—such as problems with your health, your relationships, and your work or school. It can lead to dependency on opioids, also called addiction. Opioid dependency can be long term and may lead to a chronic and life-threatening condition.

Opioid use disorder in youth

Using opioids can be especially dangerous to youth because their brains are still developing. In Alberta, opioids are causing serious harm to youth, and many youth have died from opioid poisoning, or overdose. To learn more about opioids and their risks, go to the links below:


Current as of: December 3, 2021

Author: Addiction & Mental Health, Alberta Health Services