Avoiding addiction when powerful opioid painkillers are needed, from the November 2013 Harvard Health Letter

Sometimes the best way to ease pain is with the type of prescription painkiller known as an opioid. Despite their "addictive" reputation in the media, the majority of people use opioids safely and without addition, reports the November 2013 Harvard Health Letter.

Opioids are a class of painkillers with high addictive potential. They include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and meperidine (Demerol). Opioids are typically used for the short term, such as for treating severe pain following surgery. They are also sometimes used long-term for relieving pain related to cancer or a terminal illness.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »