Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Taking Prescription Pain Medicine Safely

Prescription opioid pain medications such as oxycodone and codeine are some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs. And there has certainly been a lot of talk in the media about the very real problem of pain medicine addiction.

Unfortunately, all of that news coverage can sometimes overshadow the fact that these medicines are important tools in treating pain. For many people, opioid medicines—which work by reducing pain signals that are sent to your brain—can be extremely helpful. When used appropriately, these medicines can help manage both short-term and chronic pain.

How can you and your doctor help ensure the safe use of prescription pain medicines and avoid pain medicine addiction?

Weighing the risks and benefits of opioid pain medicine is extremely important, as is keeping an open line of communication with your healthcare provider while taking them. This can help you avoid unnecessary complications. All medicines can be useful, but they must be taken appropriately to provide the most benefit while risking the least harm.



  • 1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Commonly abused prescription drugs. Updated October 2011.
  • 2. Fields H. State-dependent opioid control of pain. Nat Rev Neurosci.2004 Jul; 5: 565-575. Doi: 10.1038/nrn1431.
  • 3. Savage SR, Kirsh KL, Passik SD. Challenges in using opioids to treat pain in persons with substance use disorders. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2008 Jun; 4(2): 4-25.
  • 4. Ballantyne JC and Mao J. Opioid therapy for chronic pain. N Engl J Med. 2003 Nov 13; 349: 1943-53. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra025411.
  • 5. Package insert: Oxycontin. Purdue Pharma.