Government of New Brunswick

Opioids are medications that are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Most opioids are available by prescription only; the type and dose prescribed may be different for each patient.

Opioids come in many forms including:

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Syrups
  • Liquids for injection
  • Nose sprays
  • Skin patches

There is a high risk of addiction if opioids are taken for a period longer than eight weeks for non-cancer pain. Opioid users develop tolerance over time and require a higher dose to get the same effect; this increases the risk of overdose.

Common opioid prescription names*

  • Codeine (Tylenol #1, #2, #3)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Hydromorph Contin)
  • Morphine (Statex, MS Contin, M-Eslon)
  • Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin, OxyNEO)

*This list includes only the most commonly prescribed opioids. If you are unsure whether one of your medicines is an opioid, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

There are many dangerous and unpredictable effects associated with misusing prescription drugs including addiction, overdose and death. As with other medications, even when used as directed, opioids may have negative effects.

Short-term effects of using opioids may include:

  • drowsiness;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • constipation;
  • itching and sweating;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • headache, dizziness and confusion.

Safe storage

It is important to keep prescription opioids out of reach from others in your home, especially children and youth. Safe storage and disposal of prescription opioids and other pharmaceuticals help ensure they do not end up in the wrong hands.

Opioid prescriptions should be kept in original packaging in a cabinet that can be locked, lockbox or somewhere they are not easily accessible.

Safe disposal

Prescription medications, including opioids, are often left lying in medicine cabinets and cupboards if they are unused or expired. This can lead to potential misuse.

You can return your unused or expired prescription to many pharmacies in New Brunswick to ensure safe disposal. Do not flush medicines down the toilet or sink.