A majority of U.S. opioid painkiller users are at risk of addiction, and they don't even know it.
- Americans don't know their painkillers contain opioids, or that it is a felony to share them
- Opioid users are unconcerned about addiction, but most have reason to worry
- Opioid users overestimate the benefits of opioids and underestimate the risks of addiction or death
A suburban Chicago mother who lost her son to an overdose is doing everything she can to increase public awareness of the risks associated with using
opioids like codeine, Vicodin, Demerol, methadone, morphine and oxycodone.
A Life Cut Short
Felicia Miceli's 24-year-old son, Louie, died in August 2012. The problem started when he was injured playing high school football and was overprescribed opioids. Learn more about Louie's addiction to opioids, which led to his addiction to heroin, in the National Safety Council
Prescription Drug Community Action Kit.
The kit is designed to arm advocates with information and resources, and to highlight the importance of
a coordinated community effort, such as the Safe Communities America initiative in Madison and Dane County, Wis.
Today, Felicia speaks on the dangers of prescription drug abuse at events like the International Overdose Awareness Day rally, which took place Aug. 31, 2015, in Chicago.
No Such Thing as a Dumb Question
If your doctor recommends an opioid painkiller,
ask if you can take ibuprofen or naproxen instead. Ask about conditions that will increase your risk of becoming addicted to opioids, including:
- Depression or other mental illness
- Long-term use of opioid painkillers
- Personal or family history of addiction, including nicotine and alcohol
Be sure also to discuss whether you work in a safety-sensitive position and how your driving will be affected.
Never Mix Your Medications
Mixing alcohol and other drugs with opioid painkillers can intensify the effects:
Never mix opioid medications with alcohol, sleep aids, anti-anxiety drugs or other pain relievers
- Do not take extended-release opioids "as needed" for pain or more frequently than prescribed by your doctor
- Talk to your prescriber and pharmacist to ensure you won't have drug interactions from other medications
How Do I Use Opioid Painkillers Safely?
In select, individual cases, opioids may be one part of an effective pain management plan, particularly in cases involving lower-back pain. NSC Medical Advisor Dr. Don Teater says that even then patients should be monitored closely and opioids should be used at the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time.
He also recommends treating over-the-counter and prescription drugs with caution:
- Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you have questions about medicine
- Know the dose that is right for you
- Read and follow instructions every time
- Never take multiple medicines with the same active ingredient unless directed by a doctor
put over-the-counter and prescription medicines up and away and out of sight
National Prescription Drug Take-back Day is April 30
Prescription drugs can be extremely dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands, so what do you do with prescriptions that are expired or unwanted?
One of the best ways to get rid of them is through community-based take-back programs. The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day April 30 provides safe and convenient locations throughout the United States. The program is an initiative of the
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Locate a local collection site near you. Hours are generally from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also
search for a public disposal location here any time of year.
Properly disposing of prescriptions is a major component in fighting the drug abuse epidemic.
Talk to Your Kids about the Risks of Opioid Painkillers
Warn children that taking a drug that wasn't prescribed to them is just as dangerous as illegal drugs:
- Discuss the dangers of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol
- Explain how painkillers are made from opioids, which are similar to heroin
- Talk to grandparents and caregivers about how to safely store their medications
- Secure any opioid painkillers, sedatives, sleep medications or stimulants in a locked drawer or container
- Warn children
prescription opioid painkiller abuse is prevalent among teens