There are many reasons someone may take a prescription medication. We know these prescriptions are only safe when taken as directed by a medical professional for a specific health purpose, but for those who still choose to use outside of these conditions,* there are some things to be aware of.
Whether you’ve heard about the opioid crisis, are concerned about a friend or just want to know more about prescription use and safety, here are the basics.
*It is illegal to take a prescription medication that was not prescribed to you directly.
There’s a lot of media coverage on opioid use in our country. It’s important to know what opioids actually are, where they come from and what the risks of use include.
Opioids are drugs derived from opium, also called opiates. Opioids include semi-synthetic and synthetic opiates, which include illicit drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and carfentanyl. Opioids also include prescription pain medications, such as morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone (Oxycontin).
Opioid overdoses can be fatal and difficult to predict. The best prevention is to avoid opioid use unless explicitly prescribed to you with specific instructions by a medical professional. However, if someone still chooses to use, noting the factors that can contribute to an overdose may help save a life.
Safety and risks with prescription medications depends on the type of medication in use. It’s good to be aware of the associated effects with each.
Mixing any of these with other substances, including alcohol, can seriously increase the risk of negative effects and can be fatal in some cases. It is illegal to use prescription medications that were prescribed to someone else; doing so also may increase the risk of negative effects, as the actual contents of the medication are unknown to the user.
To keep yourself, others and the environment safe, safely dispose of any unused prescription medication in the safe disposal box at the CU Boulder Police Department.
For those interested in recovery and treating addiction, Counseling and Psychiatric Services (located in Wardenburg Health Center and C4C S440) provides individual therapy, referrals to community resources and ongoing suboxone treatment, which provides medically assisted support to those with an opioid addiction.
The CU Collegiate Recovery Center, located in UMC 102, provides meetings and support groups, recovery-focused housing, events and activities, peer support and more for students in recovery or interested in pursuing recovering.
Get more information about alcohol and other drugs policies and resources at CU Boulder.