About Us

Medication Safety Program

Very often unused prescription medications find their way into the wrong hands. Prevent substance misuse before it starts by practicing safe use, safe storage, and safe disposal. This medication safety project is funded by a SAMHSA grant T108178 and created in collaboration with the WNY Prevention Resource Center and the NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports, OASAS.

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PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Prescription opioids can be used to help relieve moderate-to-severe pain and are often
prescribed following a surgery or injury, or for certain health conditions. These medications can
be an important part of treatment but also come with serious risks. It is important to work with
your health care provider to make sure you are getting the safest, most effective care.

Prescription opioids can be used to help relieve moderate-to-severe pain and are often
prescribed following a surgery or injury, or for certain health conditions. These medications can
be an important part of treatment but also come with serious risks. It is important to work with
your health care provider to make sure you are getting the safest, most effective care.

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MANAGING PAIN

MOVING BEYOND OPIOIDS

Medical Checkup

Most people experience some kind of pain during their lives. Pain serves an important purpose: it warns the body when it’s in danger. Think of when your hand touches a hot stove. But ongoing pain causes distress and affects the quality of life. Pain is the number one reason people see a doctor.


A class of drugs called opioids is often used to treat pain. One reason, NIH pain expert Dr. Michael Oshinsky, is that opioids work well for many people. Opioids can stop the body from processing pain on many levels, from the skin to the brain. Because they work throughout the body, he says, “Opioids can be very effective for multiple types of
pain.” 
But opioids also produce feelings of happiness and well-being. And they’re reinforcing: the more people take them, the more they crave them. This can lead to addiction or continuing to take opioids despite negative consequences. Scientists have not yet been able to develop opioids that reduce pain without producing these addicting effects, Oshinsky explains.


The longer someone takes opioids, the more they may need to take to get the same effect. This is called tolerance. Having a high tolerance doesn’t always mean you’ll become addicted. But taking higher doses of opioids increases the risk for both addiction and overdose.


The U.S. is now in the grip of an opioid crisis. Every day, more than 100 Americans die from an opioid overdose. This number includes deaths from prescription opioids.


“We don’t need ‘better’ opioids. We need to move away from the reliance on opioids for developing pain treatments,” Oshinsky says. NIH is funding research into new and more precise ways to treat pain. It’s also working to develop new treatments to combat opioid misuse and addiction.

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