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Understanding Prescription Opioids

Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that relieve pain. Common types include:

Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health conditions such as cancer.

Opioids and Chronic Pain

Many Americans suffer from chronic pain, which is a major public health concern in the United States. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain, such as back pain or osteoarthritis, despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness. The number of opioids prescribed and sold in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1999, but the overall incidence of pain reported hasn’t changed.

Risks and Side Effects

In addition to serious risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose, the use of prescription opioids can have many side effects, even when taken as directed:

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the risks and benefits of opioids before beginning opioid therapy. Learn more about opioids and how to protect yourself and your loved ones from abuse, addiction, and overdose by visiting CDC.gov/drugoverdose.

Source: CDC.gov

February 25, 2019

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