When can prescription painkillers be dangerous?

Many people believe that misusing or abusing prescription drugs won’t hurt them. This idea exists partly because prescription painkillers are prescribed by doctors. Popular examples of these drugs include:

Generic name Brand names
hydrocodone Vicodin® / Lortab®
oxycodone OxyContin® / Percocet®
methadone Methadose® / Dolophine®
fentanyl Actiq® / Duragesic®

In reality, the improper use of prescription painkillers can be devastating and can cause breathing trouble, seizures, addiction, and even death.

In 2010, one in 20 people in the U.S. (12 and older) used prescription painkillers without a prescription just for the experience it caused according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Hospitalizations and deaths due to prescription painkillers are at all-time highs. Half a million people visited emergency departments in 2010 because of misusing or abusing the drugs, and nearly 15,000 people died from them in 2008 (CDC).

Carolinas Poison Center wants you to be aware of how dangerous it can be to incorrectly use these drugs. People can misuse or abuse a prescription drug by:

  • taking a prescription not meant for them.
  • taking more of their own medication than what is prescribed.

If you have questions about prescription painkillers, how they interact with other drugs, or if you think you may have taken too many, call the Poison Center anytime day or night. We never close, and every call is free and confidential: 1-800-222-1222.