What Are Opioid Equivalents and Conversions?

Reviewed on 7/17/2020

What Are Opioids?

Opioid comparison charts allow providers to match potency among different type of opioid/narcotic drugs. This is necessary when switching opioid drug types for therapeutic, financial or other reasons.
Opioid comparison charts allow providers to match potency among different type of opioid/narcotic drugs. This is necessary when switching among opioid drug types for therapeutic, financial or other reasons.

Opioids (narcotics) are medications used to relieve pain. When used as prescribed and under the direction of a medical provider, these medications can be useful in pain management. However, they also have the potential for abuse and addiction.

What Are Some Examples of Opioids?

Opioids include illegal drugs such as heroin and opium, and prescription medications such as:

What Are Opioid Equivalents and Conversions?

In order to effectively prescribe and manage opioid use by patients, medical providers have to properly calculate doses of the drugs. It is also common for patients to need to switch from one opioid medication to another for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Cost of medications
  • Availability of the drug
  • The current drug prescribed is not effective (or is no longer effective) 
  • To minimize side effects

There are specific guidelines and recommendations from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for prescribing opioids for chronic pain as well as for calculating equivalent doses when switching from one opioid analgesic to another. 

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Reviewed on 7/17/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

DrugAbuse.gov