Teach Them Safe Use

Here’s a quick primer on pain relief to help you better understand pain relief medicines so you can help teens understand these medicines and why it’s important to use them safely.

Pain relief medicines are available in many forms. They are available by prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) and treat physical pain of all kinds—from tension headaches and menstrual cramps, to broken bones and chronic conditions. “Analgesics” and “painkillers” are other terms for pain relief medicines. Some analgesics block or decrease sensitivity to pain. Others act by inhibiting the formation of certain chemicals in the body.

Prescription pain relief medicines include the powerful drugs

  •  morphine, which is often used before and after surgical procedures to alleviate severe pain
  •  oxycodone, which is also often prescribed for moderate to severe pain
  •  codeine, which comes in combination with acetaminophen or other non-opioid pain relief medicines and is often prescribed for mild to moderate pain
  •  hydrocodone, which comes in combination with acetaminophen or other non-opioid pain relief medicines, and is prescribed for moderate to moderately severe pain.

These powerful prescription pain medicines are not routinely prescribed. They are reserved for treating severe pain related to injury or illness. Misuse of prescription pain medicines can be extremely harmful–even deadly.

Explain to teens that these medicines should only be used with caution, as directed by a healthcare professional, and only with a clear understanding for how to use them correctly and appropriately.

Prescription pain relievers should never be shared or taken without the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Source: “A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration