If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line or call 911: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 or Text 838255

What is a Prescription Opioid?

Prescription opioids, also known as narcotics, are strong drugs that relieve pain. Health care providers may prescribe opioids to Service members to help relieve chronic pain when drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen don’t help. In many cases, health care providers also prescribe opioids after an injury or surgery.

How do opioids work?

Prescription opioids block pain signals from the brain to the rest of your body. The common ones are oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and codeine (often prescribed for coughs as well as pain).

What are the risks?

While prescription opioids can help relieve pain, using them comes with risks. Anyone who uses prescription opioids can become dependent or addicted because over time you have to take more opioids to get the same effect. For severe pain, most prescription drugs are recommended for three days of use or less. More than seven days is rare.

It is important to only use prescription opioids as directed by your health care provider. Before you start taking a prescription opioid, share any family history of substance misuse or addiction with your health care provider. Also, make sure you discuss the risks and benefits of prescription opioids. If you have concerns, talk to them about other options.

Also, keep a couple things in mind to protect your career. Prescription opioids can cause you to pop positive on a drug test, so make sure to let your PCM know about any medications you are prescribed off-base and only take what is prescribed to you.

What are the side effects of prescription opioids?

Prescription opioids may cause side effects which can include:

  • Increased pain
  • Constipation
  • Nausea, vomiting and dry mouth
  • Feeling sleepy or dizzy
  • Confusion
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Itching and sweating

Prescription opioids can be helpful when used correctly and with caution. Make sure you understand the right ways to take prescription opioids by talking to your health care provider or pharmacist.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line or call 911: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 or Text 838255