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The problem with opioids

Updated: Apr 10, 2019

44 people die everyday in the U.S. from prescription painkiller overdose

Opioids are medications commonly prescribed to relieve pain and sometimes cough. Examples include oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Lortab®, Vicodin®), fentanyl (Duragesic®) and cough syrups with codeine or hydrocodone.

These medications work by lowering pain signals delivered to the brain and can change the way the brain responds to pain. They can also bring intense “rush” feelings, which can lead to misuse and addiction.

Opioid misuse or abuse is seen in both adults and youth. Misuse is often characterized by the following behaviors:

  • Taking opioids longer than your doctor recommends

  • Taking larger amounts of the drug to maintain the same level of relief

  • Craving the drug

  • Continued use despite negative effects or attempting to stop

  • Giving up on healthy social activities

Some of these behaviors can lead to life-threatening side effects, including addiction, overdose or death.

Help is available

If you are struggling with pain relief and/or the use of opioids (or know someone who is), there is help. Your health care provider is the best place to start — he or she can help you find safer options for managing your pain.

You can also get confidential help through your Here4TN benefits. Call 1-855-Here4TN and you will be connected with a specialist. Or our ParTNers Center onsite EAP counselor can assess and refer you for appropriate help. Give us a call at 615-741-1709.

For 24/7 assistance, contact the Substance Abuse Treatment Helpline at 1-855-780-5955.

If you suspect an opioid or other drug overdose, call 911 immediately.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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