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

Pain medicines make pain feel better after surgery or injuries. You need a doctor's note (called a prescription) to buy strong pain medicines, called “opioids.” Prescription pain medicines are legal and helpful to use when a doctor orders them to treat your medical problem. 

You may have heard people talking a lot about opioids lately. People sometimes take them without a doctor's prescription to get high. Drug dealers sell these pills just like they sell heroin or cocaine. Some people get 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 medicines can be as dangerous as heroin or cocaine. In fact, they have most of the same chemicals as heroin.

Examples of prescription pain medicines are:

  • oxycodone (brand names: OxyContin® or Percocet®)
  • hydrocodone (brand name: Vicodin®)

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

Like heroin, pain pills can cause a rush of good feelings when they're first taken. 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