Dangers of Opioid Pain Medications

pills 3 Opioid pain medications include a broad range of drugs, such as morphine, codeine and oxycodone. They are marketed under many different brand names, including Percocet®, OxyContin®, and Tylenol No.1®.

When used as directed, opioid pain medications are effective and the side effects (e.g., drowsiness, nausea, constipation, etc.) are generally manageable. However, abuse of these medications can have serious health effects and may lead to addiction.

Opioid pain medications are generally used to manage moderate to severe pain, which may be acute (e.g., short-term pain following surgery) or chronic (e.g., long-term pain associated with a medical condition, such as different types of cancers). They may also be used to control moderate to severe cough, control diarrhea, and treat addictions to other opioids, including street drugs like heroin.

Potential for Abuse and Addiction

In addition to treating pain, opioid medications can also cause euphoria (a "high"), and this makes them prone to abuse. Patients taking opioid medication for pain may or may not experience a high. However, all opioids have the potential to be addictive. Addiction refers to the compulsive use of a substance, despite its negative consequences. People with a personal or family history of substance abuse, including alcohol, may be at higher risk of addiction to opioid pain medications.

Over the past decade, abuse of and addiction to opioid pain medication has emerged as a public health issue. Abuse of these medicines can cause serious health effects for the user, including a risk of death from an overdose. Drug abuse and addiction to any substance may also cause problems at work or school, and can result in the breakdown of family relationships. In addition, drug abuse can result in financial costs to society for things like healthcare, crime, and lost productivity.

Other subjects in this article include;

  • Side Effects of Opioid Pain Medications
  • Other Safety Concerns
  • Overdose
  • Drug Interaction
  • Physical Dependence / Withdrawal
  • Minimizing Your Risk
  • Health Canada’s Role

Need More Info?

And, visit the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and search for these resources: "Do You Know…Opioids," "Oxycontin: Straight Talk" and "Is it Safe for My Baby – Pain Medications."

Full article at; Health Canada

See also; Narcotics Anonymous