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Key points for raising people’s awareness about opioids

Opioid Awareness is an essential aspect of public health, due to the increasing prevalence of opioid use, both in prescribed and illicit forms. The Opioid Awareness Coalition aims to understand the key points of this issue enhances safety, supports proper treatment, and drives prevention efforts.

  • Understanding Opioids: Opioids encompass a group of substances, including prescription medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl, alongside illicit drugs like heroin. Being aware of opioids includes recognizing these types of opioids, their medical uses and their potential for misuse and addiction.
  • Prevalence and Impact: The opioid crisis affects people from all demographics and age groups. Awareness includes understanding the scale of the problem, including statistics such as the over 2 million people in the U.S. alone battling opioid addiction.
  • Risk of Addiction and Overdose: Opioids have a high potential for addiction and can lead to fatal overdoses. Increased awareness can help individuals understand the signs of addiction and the risk factors, including dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Treatment Options: Effective treatments for opioid use disorders exist, including medication-assisted treatments (MAT), counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapies. Awareness of these options aids in reducing stigma and encouraging individuals to seek help.
  • Prevention Efforts: Opioid awareness encompasses understanding prevention strategies, such as responsible opioid prescribing practices, public education, and early intervention strategies for those at risk of developing an opioid use disorder.
  • Policy Implications: Legislative and policy changes, at both the local and national level, play a major role in tackling the opioid crisis. Awareness of these changes and their impact could drive informed advocacy for more effective opioid policies.

Alternative for opioid pain medications



Where to call for overdose

For opioid overdoses, call 9-1-1 and be prepared to briefly and clearly state the reason for the overdose.

Who is prescribed opioids?

Patients with severe pain due to injuries and surgeries, as well as severe forms of cancer.

Mental Issues of Opioids

In most cases it is depression, nervous breakdowns and even suicide attempts


There have been recent changes to how opioid medications (Oxycodone, OxyContin® hydromorphone, fentanyl, morphine) are used to treat pain. Here’s why:

  • In 2015 in Pennsylvania, 10 people died each day due to drug poisoning from prescription opioid/heroin use
  • Opioids are not as effective or safe for treatment of chronic pain as once thought
  • Too many prescribed medications end up in the hands of those who are not the intended recipients—including our youth
  • It is impossible to know who may develop problems with these medications


  • Ask about non-opioid care for your pain
  • Lock up your medications at all times and safely dispose of left overs
  • Understand and share the fact that providers are now asking patients to sign a controlled substance agreement and undergo drug screenings to assist in keeping our community safe
  • Let your doctor or pharmacist know if you have concerns or problems with misuse of medication
What to do with opioids
opioid overdose


  1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention: If an individual is exhibiting signs of opioid abuse or overdose, such as loss of consciousness, slow or stopped breathing, or pinpoint pupils, get medical help as quickly as possible. Overdosing on opioids is a critical situation that necessitates urgent professional support.
  2. Call Hotlines for Help: For people who are struggling with opioid addiction, utilizing helplines such as SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP, can provide prompt access to information and recovery resources.

At lower doses, opioids may make you feel sleepy, but higher doses can slow your breathing and heart rate, which can lead to death.

Carrie Krieger, Pharm.D.,

The danger of opioids is that when abused, they activate and overload the pleasure centers of the brain.

Reyus Mammadli, Healthcare Advisor, author of an article on the strongest pain medications on

Drug overdose deaths involving any opioid―prescription opioids, other synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl), and heroin―continued to rise through 2021 with 80,411 deaths. 

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Popular Opioids with Side Effects

Opioids, which are a type of medication recognized for their ability to alleviate pain, are frequently recommended for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, particularly following surgical procedures or accidents. Nevertheless, it is incredibly important to be aware of the possible adverse effects associated with these strong medications in order to reduce health hazards and encourage safe usage. 


Oxycodone, a strong painkiller belonging to the opioid group, is frequently prescribed for moderate to intense pain. It is sold under different names such as OxyContin and Percocet, and it functions by changing how the brain perceives and reacts to pain. 

Side effects of Oxycodone

There are various possible side effects that can occur when using oxycodone. Some commonly experienced side effects include: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching
  • Sweating

Ensure that you seek guidance and a complete rundown from either your healthcare provider or pharmacist on how to handle and alleviate these symptoms. 


Hydrocodone is a commonly prescribed opioid for pain management. Manufactured from codeine, it is powerful and efficient in reducing severe pain.

Hydrocodone functions by modifying how pain is perceived and emotionally reacted to, achieved through its binding to opioid receptors in both the brain and spinal cord. Typically, it is combined with non-opioid pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, to enhance its efficacy. 

Side effects of hydrocodone

Like all opioids, Hydrocodone comes with a list of potential side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness

These side effects vary in intensity depending on the dosage and individual’s response to the medication. It’s vital to be aware of these potential side effects when taking hydrocodone for pain.


Codeine, a highly effective opioid, is widely used in healthcare for its potent pain-relieving properties.

Codeine is a natural plant alkaloid derived from the opium poppy. It is frequently prescribed for relieving mild to moderate pain and is often found in some types of cough and cold medicine.

Side effects of codeine

Although Codeine is effective, it’s not without side effects. Regular use can lead to:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating

Care should be taken when using Codeine, especially in the long term, due to its potential for addiction and other serious health risks.


In the world of analgesics, Fentanyl holds a prominent place. It’s a powerful opioid, often used in pain management for severe and chronic pain situations.

Fentanyl is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. It is often used in medical settings but has seen a concerning rise in illicit use.

Side effects of fentanyl

Like other opioids, Fentanyl comes with a list of potential side effects. These include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dependence

Remember, Fentanyl is a highly potent and addictive substance. It should be used under the strict supervision of a healthcare provider.


Originating from the opium poppy, Morphine is one of the most commonly used opioids. It’s often utilized for its potent pain-relieving abilities. However, just as with any medication, it comes with potential side effects.

Side effects of Morphine

The side effects of Morphine may range from mild to severe. The most common include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty urinating

Speak with your healthcare provider for a full list of potential side effects and guidance on how to manage them.


Tramadol is a potent synthetic opioid known for its pain relief capabilities. It’s most commonly used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain.

  • Available in both immediate-release and extended-release tablets
  • It works by altering the way your brain perceives pain

Side effects of tramadol

Despite its effectiveness, Tramadol isn’t without potential side effects, which may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating

It’s crucial to weigh the benefits against potential side effects when considering Tramadol for pain management.

Long-term effects of opioid use

Over time, the continuous use of opioids can lead to a variety of alarming health consequences. Chronic opioid users often grapple with issues such as:

  • Tolerance: requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect.
  • Physical Dependence: experiencing withdrawal symptoms when reducing or stopping opioid use.
  • Addiction: opioid use becomes uncontrollable despite harmful consequences.
  • Overdose: extreme decline in breathing that can lead to death.

It’s crucial to be aware of these risks to limit potential harm.

At the end…

In conclusion, the use of opioids can indeed provide pain relief, yet it’s critical to remember their potential side effects. Also, not forgotten is the importance of responsible use and always seeking appropriate medical advice. Understanding these potential risks and ensuring medications are taken as directed by a healthcare provider is imperative in promoting safe and effective treatment. This will aid in limiting the adverse effects and contributing to improved overall health outcomes.

Who we are?

We are a group of like-minded individuals who oppose the inappropriate use of opioids. Our message is directed both to patients who are prescribed opioids and to physicians themselves.

Our position:

  • opioids should only be prescribed if there is no safer alternative;
  • opioid use should be strictly regulated and abandoned as soon as it is no longer needed;
  • academic medical centers should focus more on developing new painkillers that have less aggressive side effects than opioids and are not addictive.