Pain Killers (Opioids)

Pain Killers Q&A

Codeine, OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin.

These are opioids or narcotics.

Tablets and capsules.

Medically, they are prescribed as analgesics, to treat pain. When abused, they are swallowed or injected.

Relief from pain. In some people, prescription pain relievers also cause euphoria or feelings of well-being by affecting the brain regions that mediate pleasure. This is why they are abused. Other effects include drowsiness, constipation, and slowed breathing. Taking a large single dose of prescription pain relievers can cause severe respiratory depression that can lead to death. Use of prescription pain relievers with other substances that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or general anesthetics, increases the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression.

Taken exactly as prescribed, pain relievers can manage pain effectively. But chronic use or abuse of opioids can result in physical dependence and addiction. Dependence means that the body adapts to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes with goosebumps (“cold turkey”).

Tolerance to the drugs’ effects also occurs with long-term use, so users must take higher doses to achieve the same or similar effects as experienced initially. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use.

NCAPDA_Opioid Overdose Signs (1)

Additional Resources

Use the Pill Identification Wizard (Pill Finder) to help you identify a pill based on its size, shape, color, etc. The website also features the following: 

  • Drug Information Database
  • Interactions Checker
  • FDA Alerts
  • New Drugs
  • News

Click here to learn more.

A comprehensive and up-to-date source of drug information. You can find drugs by name, slang term, and image. The website also features the following:

  • Help and Support
  • Relevant Statistics
  • How to Get Help
  • Parent and Community Resources

Click here to learn more.

Information about the most commonly abused drugs:

  • Commonly Abused Drug and Withdrawal Symptoms
  • Emerging Trends and Alerts
  • Easy to Read Drug Facts


Click here to learn more.


Song for Charlie

Song for Charlie is a family-run nonprofit charity dedicated to raising awareness about ‘fentapills’ — fake pills made of fentanyl. They partner with experts, educators, parents, and other influencers to reach the most vulnerable group: young people between the ages 13-30. Their programs highlight the emerging dangers of self-medication and casual drug use in the fentanyl era and encourage healthier strategies for coping with stress.