Opioid Pain Relievers

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Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain. Prescription opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain, though some opioids can be used to treat coughing and diarrhea.

What are common prescription opioids?

  • hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®)
  • codeine
  • fentanyl

Central Nervous System Depressants 

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Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants are medicines that include sedatives, tranquilizers, and hypnotics. These drugs can slow brain activity, making them useful for treating anxiety, panic, acute stress reactions, and sleep disorders.

What are common prescription CNS depressants?


  • diazepam (Valium®)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin®)
  • alprazolam (Xanax®)
  • triazolam (Halcion®)
  • estazolam (Prosom®)

Non-Benzodiazepine Sedative Hypnotics

  • zolpidem (Ambien®)
  • eszopiclone (Lunesta®)
  • zaleplon (Sonata®)


  • mephobarbital (Mebaral®)
  • phenobarbital (Luminal®)
  • pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal®)

Prescription Stimulants

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Prescription stimulants are medicines generally used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy— uncontrollable episodes of deep sleep. They increase alertness, attention, and energy.

What are common prescription stimulants?

  • dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
  • dextroamphetamine/amphetamine combination product (Adderall®)
  • methylphenidate (Ritalin®, Concerta®).

Risk Factors

Additional Resources on Prescription Medication

“Prescription Opioids: What you need to know”

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Patients are encouraged to stay informed about their medical treatment and pain management options.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention empowers patients to manage both acute and chronic pain responsibly by conveying the risks associated with prescription opiates, along with acknowledging other viable pain management options.  Having a conversation with your doctor about your treatment options and potential risks can help ensure optimal medical treatment outcomes. 

 “What to Ask Your Doctor Before Taking Opioids: A Checklist”

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compiled a list of questions to use when starting a conversation with your medical provider to determine if prescription opioid painkillers are the best pain management therapy for you.  

Tips for Older Adults When Talking with Their Doctor

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A basic plan can help you get the most out of your medical appointment.  This guide will help you prepare for your doctor's visit.