Prescription medication opioids

by Sakshi Nemlekar and Hannah Naseer

What are prescription pills opioids?

Opioids, which usually come in pill form, are prescription medications used to reduce pain. Doctors prescribe them after surgery or to help patients with severe pain or pain that lasts a long time.

How are abused?

  • Taking someone else’s prescription opioid medication.

    • Even if the person taking the opioid is doing so for the medication’s intended purpose, such as to ease pain, it is considered abuse if the medication is not prescribed to you by a health care clinician.

  • Taking a prescription opioid medication in a way other than prescribed.

    • Taking more of the medication than prescribed, combining it with alcohol or other drugs, or crushing the pills into powder to snort or inject the drug is abuse. Taking opioids in this way increases risk for both addiction and overdose.

  • Taking the opioid prescription to get high.

    • If the primary (most important) reason to take the medication is to get high, it is abuse.

How do they affect the brain?

Opioids attach to specific proteins, called opioid receptors, in the brain, spinal cord, gut, and other organs. When these drugs attach to their receptors, they block pain messages sent from the body through the spinal cord to the brain.

What are the other effects of prescription pills opioids?

  • Sleepiness

  • Confusion

  • Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach)

  • Constipation

  • Breathing problems. Taking just 1 large dose could cause serious breathing problems that lead to death.

How do you get addicted?

Opioid withdrawal can cause:

  • Restlessness

  • Muscle and bone pain

  • Sleep problems

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting (throwing up)

  • Cold flashes with goosebumps (“cold turkey”)

  • Involuntary leg movements

How can you die from abuse?

Yes. In fact, taking just 1 large dose could cause serious breathing problems that lead to death. In 2014, opioid pain relievers accounted for close to 19,000 deaths in the United States. If you compare it to 2001, when 5,500 people died from an overdose of opioid pain relievers, you can see how dramatically deaths have increased in the last decade. Among young people, males are much more likely to overdose from opioid abuse than are females.1 In 2014, among young people ages 15 – 24, three out of every four deaths from an overdose of pain relievers is a male.

How many teens abuse this drugs?

In the past year 8.6% use Vicodin and 7.1% of students have used Oxycontin.

What should you do if someone need help?

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP

What classification does the drug belong in?

It is a narcotic.