Opioids are powerful medications indeed — when prescribed by doctors and used correctly, medications such as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and fentanyl can help relieve pain. They can help people get through surgeries, relieve cancer pain, recover from injuries, or manage chronic pain.
When taking an opioid, you have to be careful. There is a chance you could become dependent on them and develop an opioid use disorder.
You could also overdose and die, even if you’ve just started taking them.
Medications interact with each other. Taking certain medications with opioids, such as sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxers or antidepressants increases your risk of overdosing.
You also increase your risk of an overdose if you drink alcohol before or after taking an opioid. Taking more than your doctor has prescribed, or for a condition your doctor hasn’t prescribed them for, is dangerous too.
Risky behavior, like taking opioids without a doctor’s prescription or recreationally, also increases your chance of overdosing and dying.
If you or a loved one take an opioid for any reason, you’re at more risk of overdosing than you might think. Overdoses happen to people of all ages, genders, and races, no matter where they live or their income.
That’s why you need to be careful. That’s why you should learn about — and get — naloxone, which can help you stop an opioid overdose and save a life.