Misuse / Abuse
When properly used, prescription painkillers can be effective tools for managing discomfort and assisting with healing. However, if abused, they can be lethal.
Proper storage and disposal is critical. Sixty-eight percent of those who abuse prescription painkillers obtain them from a friend or relative. Learn more about Safe Storage and Safe Disposal.
Prescription Painkillers and Teens
National surveys find teens believe prescription painkillers are safer to use than street drugs because a doctor prescribes them. Teens also report prescription drugs are “easier to get than beer” because they can take them from their friends’ and family’s medicine cabinets.
Many of the most commonly prescribed painkillers, including OxyContin, Vicodin, Methadone, Darvocet, Dilaudid, Lortab, Lorcet and Percocet, can trigger the feeling of “needing” the drug. Watch for these signs in others, or yourself, to detect painkiller dependency:
- Taking painkillers more often, even when not experiencing much discomfort
- Spending more and more time obtaining prescriptions
- Cash, valuables or medicine missing from the home
- Mood and personality changes, becoming defensive
- Excessive drowsiness and lack of appetite
- Withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Increasingly sensitive to normal sights, sounds, emotions
- Blackouts and forgetfulness
WHERE TO GO FOR HELP
Several Oregon agencies offer help with addiction or dependency. To learn more, go to:
- Oregon Health Authority, Health Systems, Addictions and Mental Health Services website
- Find an Oregon Alcohol and Drug Treatment Provider (2017)
- In 2013 more than 46 Americans died each day from overdosing on prescription pain relievers
- 1-in-5 college students have abused prescription stimulants
- More than 70,000 children are hospitalized each year due to accidental overdoses. Nearly half of those cases were caused by a small number of specific drugs including prescription painkillers Bupreorphine, Hydrocodone, and Oxycodone.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Medication Safety Program.
- General Medication Safety. (2017). Medication Disposal.
- Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2015). Monitoring the Future: National Survey Results on Drug Use: 1975-2014.
- National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). (2013). Prescription Drug Sharing Behavior.