Opioids are a class of drugs that include the heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and prescription pain medication such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.
While many prescription pain medications contain opioids, misuse can lead to opioid use disorder or event an overdose. Opioid misuse can affect anyone, recognizing the signs and symptoms of misuse can save a life.
Signs of Misuse
- Regularly taking an opioid in a way not intended by the doctor who prescribed it, including taking more than the prescribed dose or taking the drug for the way it makes a person feel
- Taking opioids "just in case," even when not in pain
- Mood changes, including excessive swings from elation to hostility
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Borrowing medication from other people or "losing" medications so that more prescriptions must be written
- Seeking the same prescription from multiple doctors, in order to have a "backup" supply
- Poor decision-making, including putting himself or herself and others in danger
Opioid Use Prevention
Opioid misuse can be prevented, and there are simple steps you can take at home to help keep your loved ones safe.
- Safely store prescription medicines, such as opioids, in a locked or secure cabinet out of reach of children and pets.
- The best and most environmentally friendly way to dispose of your prescription medicine is through a drug take-back program. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically provides drug disposal sites in communities across the nation. The DEA also has permanent drug disposal sites in certain pharmacies or hospitals.
- There are many treatment options available to treat pain and other ailments that do not require opioids. For example, ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin are over the counter pain relievers. Physical therapy, acupuncture, injections or nerve blocks and surgery can also be used to treat pain and chronic illness.
If you or someone you know are struggling with opioid use, find a free naloxone distributor near you so that you can save a life.