Opioids: Why 'dangerous' drugs are still being used to treat pain The widespread use of opioids to treat pain frequently prompts concerns about addiction and even deaths. So, why are these sometimes dangerous drugs still being given to patients?
Much stronger than many of the other options, opioids are among the world's most commonly prescribed painkillers.
These drugs - including morphine, tramadol and fentanyl - are used to treat pain caused by everything from heart attacks to cancer.
But in the UK they were recently linked to the deaths of hundreds of elderly hospital patients, while the US is battling a well-documented opioid epidemic.
Why not just use other painkillers to avoid the risk of harm? BBC News