Key facts about opioids

Review the following to better understand this issue.

What is an opioid?

You may have heard of heroin. This is a type of opioid. Another type of opioid is a pain medication that requires a prescription. These are called prescription opioids, or pain medications. These opioids are also sometimes called painkillers or pain pills.

Prescription opioids or pain medications are provided by doctors for pain relief. They are typically provided to adults, but on some occasions, a doctor could prescribe a child or teen a pain medication if they are having surgery or have been injured.  Learn about what you can do if your doctor prescribes one to your child

The facts

  • Prescription opioids are easy to get, and many teens don't realize they can be as harmful as illegal street drugs when misused
  • 4 out of 5 people who use heroin began by misusing prescription pain medications. Percocet, OxyContin, and Vicodin are a few commonly prescribed pain medications
  • 1 in 4 teens report they've misused or abused a prescription drug at least once
  • 2 out of 3 teens abusing prescription pain meds say they get them from family or friends.
  • Some teens hand out or sell extra pills of their own, or pills they’ve gotten or stolen from friends or family members
  • Prescription pain medications are especially dangerous for teens because their brains are still developing

According to the Partnership for Drug Free Kids, kids whose parents talked with them about prescription pain medications were 42% less likely to misuse these drugs

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