August 22, 2018

Over 200 Pharmacy students will be at 35 community pharmacy sites in Washtenaw County on August 28, educating the public on safe opioid use, storage, and disposal. Students will also be educating the public on recognizing opioid abuse, resources for help, and the opioid overdose reversal aid Naloxone. Students will be in CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid, and Walgreens pharmacies in the U-M campus community. 

Prescription opioid abuse is a serious and growing problem. While there are many legitimate uses for these drugs, abuse is a significant risk. We set up this page to help you learn more about the use and abuse of prescription opioids. Call 1-800-662-HELP for information or concernsDownload the brochure.

Opioids are a class of drugs used for powerful pain relief.

  • Some well-known opioid medications include Vicodin®, OxyContin®, Percocet®, Norco®, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and heroin.

While we hear a great deal about opioid abuse, there are many legitimate uses, including:

  • Pain from dental procedures, like wisdom teeth removal
  • Cancer and chronic pain
  • Pain from sports-related injuries, other physical injuries, or surgery

Not everyone taking an opioid becomes addicted, but dependence and tolerance may occur.

  • Tolerance - reduced effect of the medication due to extended exposure, higher doses are needed to get the same effect
  • Dependence - withdrawal symptoms occur when the medication is reduced or stopped
  • Addiction - compulsive use or continued use despite harm, craving, impaired self-control

Just because you take your pain medication every day does not mean you are addicted.

Accordion Row
  • Fighting Opioid Abuse & Addiction
    • Before taking opioids, ask your provider these questions:
      • Why do I need this medication - is it right for me?
      • How long should I take this medication?
      • Are there non-opioid alternatives that could help with pain relief?
      • What if there is a history of addiction in my family?
    • Take them only as prescribed because opioid abuse can lead to addiction.
    • Do not share your pain medications with others.
    • Call the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP for information and referral services.
  • Screening Tool for Addiction

    In the past 3 months,

    • Have you felt you should cut down on using your medications?
    • Has anyone annoyed you by telling you to cut down on using these medications?
    • Have you been waking up wanting to use them?

    If you answered yes to 2 or more of these questions, see your doctor.

  • Naloxone for Opioid Overdose

    Naloxone is an emergency drug that blocks the effects of opioids, and is used for opioid overdoses.

    • Symptoms of opioid overdose are extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing or loss of consciousness.
    • In Michigan, naloxone is available at pharmacies without a prescription. Law enforcement officers also carry naloxone for emergency situations.
  • Opioid Storage, Safeguarding, and Disposal

    Storage and Safeguarding

    • DO store medications in a secure place to keep them away from children, teens and strangers.
    • DO organize and keep track of your medications.
    • DON’T tell others what medications you are taking because this could make you a target for theft.
    • DON’T share with family or friends or keep medications for later use.


    • DO mix unused medications with cat litter, used coffee grounds, garbage or other undesirable items. Scratch off names and addresses on empty bottles and throw them in the trash.
    • DO take unused, unwanted or expired medications for safe disposal to local and national drug takeback sites and/or events. These include police stations, county health departments and some pharmacies. Visit for information on sites near you.
    • DON’T flush medications down the toilet.
  • References