The Opioid Epidemic

Protect your teen from opioid addiction

Opioids are a class of drugs that contain the illegal drug heroin and many prescription medications, including pain relievers. Prescription opioid drugs, which can be found in millions of households across the country, are the cause of nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths. These drugs become addicting because of the temporary “high” one feels, and continued use can build up one’s tolerance, causing someone to consume a higher dose to feel good and avoid the withdrawal symptoms that occur with addiction.

From 2001 to 2014, the number of 13-25 year olds diagnosed with an opioid use disorder has increased six-fold. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with opioids being the main force behind this epidemic. As providers and parents, it is important that we recognize this current epidemic and work together to put an end to it.

What can you do as a parent to protect your teen from the opioid epidemic? First, it’s important to know what the most common prescription opioids are and their street names, so you can be on the lookout if you hear your teen or teen’s friends talking about these drugs.

  • Morphine – Includes brands such as Kadian or AVINza. Its street names are “mister blue” or “dreamer.”
  • Oxycodone – Found in brands such as Percocet, OxyContin, Oxecta and Roxicodone. Its street name is “kicker.”
  • Hydrocodone – Found in Vicodin, Xodol, Zydone, Dolacet, Lorcet, Liquicet, Zohydro, Hysingla Co-gesic and Anexsia. Cough syrup forms have street names of “Robo” or “Tuss.”
  • Codeine (like hydrocodone) – It is sometimes found in cough syrup form. The street name for the cough syrup form is “syrup,” and brands of acetaminophen that have codeine in its ingredients are called “Cody” or “schoolboy.”
  • Fentanyl – Including Duragesic, Fentora, Sublimaze and Actiq. Its street names are “Apache,” “China White,” “Dance Fever,” “Friend,” “Jackpot,” “Murder 8,” “Goodfella,” “TNT,” “Cash” and “Tango.”

Talk to your children about opioid drugs.

Kids who learn about the risks and dangers of drugs at home are less likely to use drugs. Explain to your children how deadly opioid drugs can be, and that they are never to share opioids with anyone. In addition to the many dangers of using these drugs, it is also a felony crime that may result in jail time.

Avoid opioids for pain relief, if possible.

Talk to your doctor about different options for pain relief, as recent studies show that ibuprofen and other non-addictive medicines can be just as effective.

Store medications in a secure place.

If you or your children have opioids and other prescription medicines, count and keep track of the number of pills you have and keep them locked up. According to surveys, two-thirds of teens who misuse prescription painkillers got them from family members, friends or acquaintances, so it’s important that you also ask your family members, friends and acquaintances to lock them up.

Get rid of leftover prescription medication.

You can return leftover opioid prescriptions to a pharmacy, doctor’s office or hospital, or many areas offer “take-back” events to collect these opioids and other prescription drugs.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Contact your pediatrician if you think your child may be abusing opioid drugs or developing an addiction.

Learn what to do if someone overdosed.

Immediately get the person help by calling 911. Good Samaritan laws provide legal protection for those who try to help someone who has overdosed on illegal drugs.

For additional resources on the opioid epidemic, visit