The Rise of Prescription Opioids

Submitted by Florida Department of Health in Broward County

Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for certain health conditions. Common types are oxycodone (oxycontin), hydrocodone (vicodin), morphine, and methadone.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of prescription opioids, despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness. Unfortunately, one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction. Once addicted, it can be hard to stop.

Opioid Epidemic

Last year, three of every four overdose deaths in Florida involved an opioid. Prescription opioid overdose deaths also often involve benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants used to sedate, induce sleep, prevent seizures, and relieve anxiety. Examples include alprazolam (Xanax®), diazepam (Valium®), and lorazepam (Ativan®).

   In addition to the serious risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose, the use of prescription opioids can have a number of side effects, including:


Physical dependence

Increased sensitivity to pain

Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth

Sleepiness and dizziness

Itching and sweating




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Fentanyl Overdoses on the Rise

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid pain reliever. When individuals who develop an opioid addiction can no longer get their supply from a pharmacy or doctor, they may purchase it illegally and can end up taking fentanyl.

Fentanyl is 50-100x more potent than morphine. It is often mixed with other drugs as a combination product, often without the user’s knowledge. Tragically, Fentanyl caused more deaths in Florida in 2019 than cocaine, morphine and heroin combined.

What Can Be Done?

You can help people with substance use disorder find the care and treatment they need. To get connected, get answers, and get options, dial 2-1-1.





About Carma Henry 21268 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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