What is an opioid? 

An opioid is a type of medicine or substance which reduces pain. Some opioids are legal and come in the form of prescription medications. Other opioids are illegal and include substances like heroin.

What are some examples of prescription opioids?

Examples of Prescription Opioids
Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)
Fentanyl (Duragesic)
Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin)
Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)   
Morphine (MS Contin)
Meperidine (Demerol)
Codeine (Tylenol #3, Tylenol #4)
(Suboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv)               

How do opioids work?  

Our bodies have different types of receptors located in the brain and other organs. Opioid substances attach to these receptors and block pain signals sent to the brain. 

What are the side effects of opioids? 

Even when they are taken as prescribed, opioid medicines have side effects.  Some side effects include:

  • Addiction or dependence
  • Slowed breathing
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Depression

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about opioid side effects.

Here are some tips on using prescription medicines, including opioids:

  • Never take more than what you are prescribed 
  • Always follow-up with your healthcare provider 
  • Do not share or sell your medicine 
  • Do not take someone else’s medicine
  • Store medicine in a secure place away from the reach of others
  • Discard all unused medicines.  

How do I dispose of un-used opioid medicine?

It is important to properly discard of any un-used opioid medicine.  Check with your city, county or local health system to get information and resources about medicine disposal and community take back programs.  

Where can I learn more about opioids? 

You can find more information about opioids on the Centers for Disease Control website: Centers for Disease Control Opioid Factsheet 

Take the next step

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