8% of high school students in Manitowoc County reported using prescription painkillers without a doctor’s prescription and 3% reported using over-the-counter drugs to get high. (2021 Manitowoc County YRBS) In 2019 1% of high school students reported the use of Methamphetamines and heroin. (2019 Manitowoc County YRBS)

What are Opioids?

Opioids include prescription medications used to treat pain such as morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, and buprenorphine, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin and illicit potent opioids such as fentanyl analogs (e.g., alfentanil).

Opioid Addiction

Addiction is a condition in which something that started as pleasurable now feels like something you can’t live without. Doctors define drug addiction as an irresistible craving for a drug, out-of-control and compulsive use of the drug, and continued use of the drug despite repeated, harmful consequences. Opioids are highly addictive, in large part because they activate powerful reward centers in your brain.

Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Endorphins muffle your perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary but powerful sense of well-being. When an opioid dose wears off, you may find yourself wanting those good feelings back, as soon as possible. This is the first milestone on the path toward potential addiction.

Safety Tips

  • Limit your use of the medicine. Unlike antibiotics where taking the entire course of medication is necessary, you should stop taking opioids as soon as your pain subsides. Take only the dose prescribed on the schedule prescribed.
  • Don’t share your medicine. Opioids were prescribed to you based on your unique needs. A recommended dose for one person could be harmful to another person.
  • Safely store your medicine. Leaving opioids on counters or in easily accessible medicine cabinets can lead others to take your opioids without your knowledge. Store your opioids in a safe place out of reach of children and pets. The best spot is a locked box or cabinet.
  • Safely dispose of leftover medicine. There is no need to hang onto opioids you did not take. If your pain returns, that’s because your body likely has not fully healed and you may need other help to fully recover. Take leftover opioids to a drug drop box.