An opiate is a drug that can suppress the perception of pain and calm a person's emotional response to pain by reducing the effect of pain signals sent by the nervous system. Opiates (also called opioids or narcotics) produce a feeling of well-being (euphoria) and cause mood changes, cloudy thinking, and deep sleep.

Side effects of opiates may include constipation and nausea. Frequent use of opiates may make a person dependent on them.

Commonly prescribed legal opiates include codeine and morphine. Opium is an example of an illegal opiate.

Current as of: February 20, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation