Safe Prescription Use Facts

Understanding safe prescription use facts is the first step toward doing your part to prevent opioid and prescription abuse! Use the helpful tools below to understand more about opioid abuse!

What are Opioids?

“Prescription opioids are powerful pain-reducing medications that include prescription oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine, among others, and have both benefits as well as potentially serious risks.”

“Regular use of these drugs, even if they are prescribed by a doctor, can lead to dependence. If opioid pain relievers are misused, they can lead to overdose incidents and deaths.”

“Opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 42,249 deaths in 2016, and opioid overdose deaths were five times higher in 2016 than 1999.”

Safe Prescription Use Facts About Opioids, Opiates, and Prescription Painkillers

  • Opioids are a class of drugs that includes heroin, prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone (i.e., Oxycontin® , Percocet® , Vicodin®), and dangerous synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, carfentanil, and other analogues. Opioids work in the brain to reduce pain and can also produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. A common way to identify various types of pain relieving substances is to describe them as opioids. 1 , 2
  • Opiates are substances that derive from natural compounds of the opium poppy plant. Morphine and codeine are the most commonly recognized opiates that can be mixed with other non-opioid pain relievers such as aspirin or acetaminophen in certain medications. 1 , 3
  • Prescription painkillers are drugs such as Oxycodone (Oxycontin® ) and Hydrocodone (Vicodin® ). These drugs typically need a doctor’s prescription, but have been increasingly diverted, misused, and abused.  4

is using a prescription in a way other than how it is prescribed by a healthcare professional. 5 , 6

  • Taking a dose at the wrong time
  • Accepting and taking prescription medications from a friend or giving medications to others
  • Taking drugs for reasons other than what they were prescribed for
  • Not following medical instructions as labeled or directed

Misuse or abuse of prescriptions opioids most often occurs to relieve pain/tension or experience a high from the drug. 8

Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider and ask questions about proper use. Make sure you take the recommended dosage. If you have left over medications, drop them off at a prescription take back location near you.


can occur when users attempt to experience a high associated with taking a prescription drug. 5 , 6

  • Using a drug to get high
  • Typically using without a prescription

Learn More


National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens



Partnership for Drug Free Kids