The Reality

  • More people accidentally die from prescription painkillers than all other drugs.
  • Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death from injury in New Mexico.
  • 1 in 4 people prescribed opioids may struggle with dependency.
  • 75% of people dependent on opioids started with doctor prescribed pain pills.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 overdose deaths statewide involved opioids of some kind, including prescription pain medication and heroin.

What are Prescription Opioids?

Prescription opioids are strong pain-reducing medications. Common prescription opioids include, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, codeine, morphine, methadone and fentanyl.

Potential Risks of Opioid Use


Opioids can be addictive. Addiction is a disease that results when the opioid has made changes to the brain. A person using medication properly is not likely to get addicted, but this sometimes happens. Addiction usually occurs through misuse. Some people are at higher risk of addiction because of their genes, temperament, or personal situation.

The signs of dependency or addiction are:

  • Craving – The mind develops an overwhelming desire for the drug.
  • Loss of control – It becomes harder to say no to using the drug.
  • Use is compulsive and continues when it causes harm.

Accidental Overdose.

Accidental overdose can happen if you are taking prescription painkillers or heroin. Opioids can cause bad reactions that make your breathing slow or even stop. This can happen if your body can’t handle the opioids you take that day.

Who is at Risk?

  • Anyone of any age who uses opioid medications to manage pain, particularly those taking higher doses.
  • Anyone who takes opioids with multiple prescriptions or other sedating substances, including alcohol, anti-anxiety, sleeping aids or muscle relaxants.
  • Household members of people who are in possession of opioids, including prescription opioids.
  • Anyone who uses heroin or injects pain medications.
  • People with reduced tolerance following detox or release from incarceration.
  • Someone who has had a previous non-fatal overdose.
  • Opioid doses greater than 90 mg of morphine per day or 60 mg of oxycodone per day.
  • Obtaining overlapping prescriptions from multiple providers and pharmacies.

Prevention Includes:

  1. Talk with your doctors about the risks associated with opioids
  2. Practice Safe Medication Use
  3. Take medicines ONLY as prescribed.
  4. Keep a current list of your medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and dietary/herbal supplements. Bring your up-to-date medicine list to all of your medical and pharmacy visits. [LINK TO FORM]
  5. Keep opioids and all other medicines in a safe place, out of the reach of children. Keep your medicines in a secure, preferably locked place.
  6. Never give away or share your medicines with others.
  7. Never mix pain medicines with alcohol, sleeping pills, or any illicit substance.
  8. Review your medicines every six months and properly dispose of all expired, unused or unwanted medicines as soon as possible.
  9. Find the disposal location in your area
  10. Prevent and Overdose 
  11. Carry Naloxone
  12. Know the Signs of Overdose
  13. Carry Naloxone. Save a Life.

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