We are facing an epidemic of opioid misuse, addiction, and overdoses. This epidemic is an urgent crisis resulting from over-prescribing and misunderstanding of the significant risks that these medications pose.

Opioid medications are drugs that work by reducing the intensity of pain signals that reach your brain. These drugs can be helpful for a short time, but most do not need to be taken over long periods of time.

  • In 2014, 240 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills. 3
  • In Mississippi, enough opioids were prescribed that every man, woman, and child could have a bottle of pills and still have some left over. 4
    • That’s more than 1.2 prescriptions per person.
    • In 2017, 47,600 overdose deaths were related to prescription pain relievers. 5
    • 46 people die everyday from overdoses involving prescription opioids. 6
    • 70% of people misusing painkillers obtain them from family and friends. 7

Commonly prescribed opioids include:

hydrocodone (Vicodin®), oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®), codeine, fentanyl, oxymorphone (Opana®), and morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®)

If you are prescribed opioid medication, be informed and fully aware of the risk of addiction.

  • Take only as directed and do not share your medication with others.
  • Do not combine opioids with alcohol, other pain meds, muscle relaxers, or sleep aids. This can lead to overdose or death.
  • Tell your doctor about all medication you are currently taking to make sure there will be no problem with adding an opioid.


You can overdose on opioids by accident. Taking opioids when you’re already taking other sedatives, or when you’ve been drinking alcohol, can send your body into respiratory depression, meaning you quit breathing.