Even though prescription opioids are provided by a doctor, it’s important to understand the strength of each type of drug. Using them any other way than prescribed can be dangerous. Scroll down for quick explanations to some of the most common questions.
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The term “opioids” can be a bit confusing because it refers to an entire class of prescription and non-prescription drugs. There are many different types, forms and brands—some you may even be familiar with but never realized contained opioids. Below is a breakdown of the names used most often.
Vicodin®, Lorcet®, Vicoprofen
OxyContin®, Percocet®, Oxecta®, Roxicodone®
It’s often mixed with pain reducers like Tylenol® as a prescription®
MS Contin®, Oramorph SR, MSIR, Roxanol, Kadian, RMS
ConZip, FusePaq Synapryn, Rybix ODT, Ryzolt, Ultram®
Actiq®, Duragesic®, Sublimaze®
Street names include:
Dope, Smack, H, Junk, Skag
Opioids do NOT cure the source of pain. They are strong depressants that mask your pain by binding to receptors in your brain that keep your body from feeling pain. Find out below why this chemical change in your brain can be risky after just a few days.
Prescription pain pills are highly addictive due to their strength, so they’re only recommended for acute, short-term pain, post-surgery recovery, or for cancer treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they’re not intended for long-term use, chronic pain, or joint and muscle pain.
The CDC states that most pain can be managed in 3 days or less. Using prescription opioids any longer than 7 days is rarely needed, and not effective, as it can lead to addiction.
Opioids are depressants, which slow down your breathing and heart rate. Too much of the drug in your bloodstream can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and drowsiness that can give way to breathing problems, falling into a coma, or dying in your sleep.
Chemically, opioids and heroin are almost exactly the same. Both of them attach to receptors in the brain that regulate pain. Because people can become easily addicted to how prescription opioids make them feel, they may seek out a replacement and start experimenting with hard drugs, like heroin, once they run out of pills.
In fact, those who use prescription opioids are 19x more likely to start using heroin.
Just because they’re prescribed, doesn’t mean they’re entirely safe. Even occasional or unintentional misuse of opioids can lead to serious consequences. Tolerance, mixing with other depressants, or not taking exactly as directed can further increase your risk. Scroll down below to see what you should watch out for while you or someone you know is using opioids.
Addiction can sneak up on you quickly and can happen to anyone. As time progresses, dependence on the drug can take over your world—making it harder to do routine activities like hold down a job or function without opioids. The cost of affording opioids long-term and the constant fear of overdosing can also build up and make life miserable.
It doesn’t take long for your body to get hooked or for your body to go through withdrawals. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of opioid withdrawal, including: anxiety, rapid heartbeat, nausea, abdominal pain, jitteriness, and vomiting.
Keeping old prescriptions “just in case” can lead to misuse, especially when stored in the medicine cabinet.
Naloxone (or Narcan ®) is the only drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. When administered in time through a nasal spray or injection, it can almost instantaneously restore breathing back to normal after it’s slowed or stopped. Naloxone is available at pharmacies in Georgia without a prescription. However, you can request a prescription from your doctor to keep on hand while taking prescription opioids.
Opioid addiction can happen in just a few days and the longer you use, the more the risk increases. Check out the list of options below that have been proven to manage pain more effectively long-term. Talk with your doctor about possible alternatives for pain management.
If your pain remains high or continues longer than expected, reach out to your doctor. They can evaluate you to make sure you are healing properly or recommend a treatment that best fits your lifestyle.