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If you use opioid pain medicine, it is very important to know your risk for addiction, overdose, and death.

Prescription opioids are used to treat pain

Prescription opioids are a type of pain medication your doctor may give you after surgery or a serious injury. Opioids may also be used to treat pain associated with certain diseases, such as cancer.

Listed in order of increasing strength, prescription opioids include:

  1. Codeine
  2. Hydrocodone (Vicodin™, Hycodan™)
  3. Morphine (MS Contin™, Kadian™)
  4. Oxycodone (Oxycontin™, Percoset™)
  5. Hydromorphone (Dilaudid™)
  6. Fentanyl (Duragesic™)

Prescription opioids can be an important part of your treatment and recovery. When taken as directed by your doctor, they can safely control pain. But, they also have serious risks. It is very important to strictly follow your doctor’s directions when using these powerful drugs.

Opioids can cause serious harm or death when combined with certain substances.

  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not take medication for sleep or anxiety, such as Xanax™, Valium™, Lunesta™, or Ambien™
  • Do not use muscle relaxants, such as Soma™ or Flexeril™

Prolonged use of prescription opioids can lead to addiction

The longer you use an opioid medication, the greater your risk of addiction. Here’s why:

  • Over time, your body can build a tolerance to the pain-relieving effects of the opioid medication, which means you may need increasingly higher doses to get relief.
  • Opioids increase feelings of euphoria, so you may want to use the drug to feel happy.
  • Over time, you can develop physical dependence on opioids, which means that when you stop taking the drug, you experience painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

It’s easy to overdose on prescription opioids

Opioids affect the part of the brain that regulates your lungs. Too much of the drug can slow or stop your breathing, which can result in sudden death.

People often overdose by mistake because their bodies have built up a tolerance and they take more medicine than prescribed to get relief from pain.

Always call 911 if you suspect an overdose.

You can help prevent opioid misuse and abuse

If you are prescribed an opioid medication, it is extremely important to:

  • Never take opioids in greater amounts or more often than prescribed.
  • Never sell or share prescription opioids.
  • Never use another person’s prescription opioids.
  • Store prescription opioids in a secure place that is hidden from children, family members, and visitors to your home.
  • Safely dispose of unused prescription opioids in drop boxes located throughout Mohave County
  • (see for drop box locations).

If you have a concern about opioid use or misuse, please talk to your healthcare provider or call the Arizona Opioid Hotline at 1-888-688-4222 or the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.