Harvard Men's Health Watch

Opioid painkillers: Take the strong stuff only when you need it

It should be matched to the right pain condition and used for a limited time—then switch to safer options.

Over-the-counter pain relievers are great for ordinary aches and pains, but for severe, unrelenting pain that interferes with daily life, you may need something stronger. In such cases, men may end up taking medications called opioids, which block pain perception in the brain. The best-known opioid drugs are oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin).

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