A prescription medicine bottle with pills outside of itPhoto by © iStock.com/David Tulk

Pain medicines relieve pain from surgery or injuries. You need a doctor's note (called a prescription) to buy some strong kinds of these medicines. Prescription pain medicines are legal and helpful to use when a doctor orders them to treat your medical problem.

But people sometimes take these without a doctor's prescription to get high or to try to treat themselves or their friends. Drug dealers sell these pills just like they sell heroin or cocaine. Some people borrow or steal these pills from other people.

Some people think that prescription pain medicines are safer to use than "street" drugs because they are medicines. Prescription pain medicine use can be as dangerous as heroin or cocaine use.

Oxycodone is one pain medicine that people often abuse. Sometimes it goes by the brand names OxyContin® or Percocet®. Another one that is often abused is hydrocodone. One of its brand names is Vicodin®.

Pain medicines are usually white, round, or oval pills. They can be taken whole, smoked, or crushed into a powder that is snorted or injected.

Like heroin, pain pills can cause a rush of good feeling when they're first taken, but they can also make you want to throw up. They can make you very sleepy. And you can get addicted to them.

Some slang names for oxycodone are:

  • Oxy
  • Cotton
  • Percs

Some slang names for hydrocodone are:

  • Vikes
  • Vikings

NEXT: Signs of Pain Medicine Use and Misuse