Prescription pain relievers containing opioids have been, and currently still are, among the most common prescription drugs abused. When opioid pain medications are used inappropriately they can induce a sense of euphoria because they stimulate specific parts of the brain involved with pleasure. For this reason, prescription painkillers have become popular drugs of choice among teens and young adults.
Opioid painkillers are powerful drugs and when taken appropriately, they can be very effective in relieving various levels of discomfort but they're also addictive and dangerous when they're misused for any reason. Numerous narcotic pain relievers have greatly fed into the prescription drug abuse epidemic that's plagued our nation in the past decade or so.
Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone and Meperidine are among the common opioid painkillers abused by people from all walks of life. Below you'll find a brief description of each one.
What is Oxycodone
Oxycodone is an opioid that's used in the treatment of mild to severe pain, due to the drugs addictive properties, oxycodone must always be used under a physician's care and never misused or tampered with. Oxycodone is highly regulated, it's a schedule II Narcotic analgesic and widely abused due to its euphoric effects. Oxycodone is commonly prescribed under the brand name OxyContin which is a controlled release formula and very powerful.
OxyContin has seriously contributed to the rise in opioid abuse in past years because the controlled release tablets contain large amounts of oxycodone and when tampered with and misused, can have fatal results. In 2010, the FDA approved a new formulation of OxyContin to deter misuse by snorting or injecting the drug. The new formula though can still be abused by consuming large amounts and lead to an overdose that may be fatal.
Oxycodone is also available combined with aspirin under the brand name Percodan and combined with acetaminophen under the brand name Percocet. All formulations of oxycodone are misused, people in all age groups abuse oxycodone for the drugs euphoric effects by swallowing them whole, snorting them after they're crushed or by injecting the powerful painkiller. Due to Oxycodone's addictive potential, continued misuse can lead to physical and mental dependence over time.
What is Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone is an analgesic (painkiller) and antitussive (cough suppressive) and it's one of the most common prescribed opioids in the U.S. Numerous hydrocodone products are available in the United States but they're all combination drugs.
Trade names Vicodin and Lortab contain hydrocodone and acetaminophen and are commonly prescribed but they're also used for nonmedical reasons among the young and older population. For example, results of a 2011 NSDUH survey shows 23.2 million individuals 12 and above in the United States had used hydrocodone for non-medical reasons.
Vicodin is an addictive painkiller that's used to treat moderate to severe levels of pain and has been a popular prescription drug of abuse for many years. Currently, Vicodin is a Schedule III drug but the FDA recommends hydrocodone combination medications be reclassified as a Schedule II drug so they're not as easily obtained.
What is Hydromorphone
Hydromorphone is a powerful opioid painkiller that's used to treat moderate to severe levels of pain and is classified as a schedule III opioid analgesic. Hydromorphone is available in generic formulations and also under the brand names Dilaudid and Exalgo. The abuse of Hydromorphone continues to be a cause for concern in the U.S.
Dilaudid is an analgesic narcotic with an addiction liability similar to that of morphine. Dilaudid, often referred to as "Drugstore Heroin" on the streets, is approximately 8 times more potent on a milligram basis than morphine is. Dilaudid can create effects that are very similar to Morphine although the euphoria has been reported as closer to Codeine.
What is Meperidine
Meperidine is a narcotic pain medication also used for treating moderate to severe levels of pain and is classified as a schedule II controlled substance. Demerol is the brand name for meperidine, like the other above prescription painkillers, Demerol triggers the brains pleasure centers intensifying its ability to generate addiction.
An opioid overdose can happen whether a person is intentionally abusing prescription pain medications or if they mistakenly end up taking too much and the end results can be fatal. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides important information regarding opioid overdose in this PDF for patients and family members.