Safe Use

Recreational Use

When used properly, prescription painkillers can be effective tools for managing discomfort and assisting healing. When they’re abused, they can be lethal.

Recreational Use
Recreational Use

Proper storage and disposal is critical. Sixty-eight percent of those who abuse prescription painkillers obtain them from a friend or relative.3 Learn more about Safe Storage and Safe Disposal.

Recreational Use

Prescription Painkillers and Teens National surveys find teens believe prescription painkillers are safer to use than street drugs because a doctor prescribes them. Teens also report prescription drugs are “easier to get than beer” because they can take them from their friends’ and family’s medicine cabinets.4

Drug Dependence

Many of the most commonly prescribed painkillers, including OxyContin, Vicodin, Methadone, Darvocet, Dilaudid, Lortab, Lorcet and Percocet, can trigger the feeling of “needing” the drug.  Watch for these signs in others, or yourself, to detect painkiller dependency:5

  • Taking painkillers more often, even when not experiencing much discomfort
  • Spending more and more time obtaining prescriptions
  • Cash, valuables or medicine missing from the home
  • Mood and personality changes, becoming defensive
  • Excessive drowsiness and lack of appetite
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Increasingly sensitive to normal sights, sounds, emotions
  • Blackouts and forgetfulness


  1.,” updated 1/9/2015.
  2. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Vital Statistics Unit. Released October 2014.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HSDUH): National Findings.
  4. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2015). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use: 1975-2014: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.
  5. “10 Warning Signs of Prescription Painkiller Dependency,”, accessed 11/17/14.


“Medication Safety,”, accessed 11/17/14. “New Colorado campaign targets teen prescription drug abuse,” by Nancy Lofholm, The Denver Post, Jan. 14, 2014.