What Does Opioid Mean?
Opioids are a class of drugs that includes both natural opiates derived from the opium plant and synthetic emulators of those drugs. Some medical professionals use the term opioid to distinguish synthetic versions of the drug from their natural counterparts. However, the two terms opiate and opioid are generally used interchangeably.
Within the opioid family of drugs are legal drugs used for pain relief such as OxyContin and Percocel, and illegal drugs such as heroin. Because even legally prescribed opioids are highly addictive and subject to abuse, many of these medications are classified as Schedule II controlled substances pursuant to the United States' Controlled Substances Act. Codeine, buprenorphine, and some hydrocodone formulations are among those opioids that are classified as Schedule III through V substances.
The U.S. government's Department of Transportation restricts the use of opiates for individuals employed in so-called safety-sensitive positions. Individuals holding such jobs (covered employees) are subject to mandatory drug testing. Opioids are among the five categories of drugs for which covered employees must be tested.