What You Should Know About Opioids

April 15, 2022
| Created by Greg Jones, RPh, MBA

This blog was written by Greg Jones, Harmons Director of Pharmacy and Wellness. 

Opioids are strong pain-relieving medications that are addicting and can have dangerous side effects such as suppressed breathing, suppressed heart rate, and death.

Stats from the Utah Department of Health website:

  • 80% of heroin users started with prescription opioids.
  • On average 475 people a year in Utah die from unintentional drug poisoning deaths.
  • Between 2016-2018, Utah ranked 28th in the US for unintentional drug poisoning deaths, which have outpaced deaths due to firearms, falls, and motor vehicle crashes.1
  • On average in Utah a year, 323 people die from a prescription opioid drug overdose, 156 people die from a heroin overdose, and 88 people die from synthetic opioid overdose.2
  • Living in a household with substance abuse is an Adverse Childhood Experience.

If you are planning to have a surgery, or you are involved in an accident, your physician may prescribe opioids to you for pain relief. These products include Percocet, Vicodin, Ultram, Oxycontin, MS Contin and many others (oxycodone/acetaminophen, hydrocodone/acetaminophen, tramadol, oxycodone, morphine etc.).

How can you help keep yourself and your family safe from opioids?

Follow these steps:

  • Always discuss your prescriptions with your doctor—Don’t leave the office without understanding each prescription and why the doctor is giving it to you.
  • Ask your pharmacist more questions—what is this medication, how do I take it, do I really need this many pills, how can it hurt me, does it interact with my other medications?
  • Never take more medication than is directed.
  • Safely store your medications. Most people wouldn’t leave a loaded gun where children can reach it, yet they might store dangers medications within reach of young children.
  • Discard unused medications. Once you no longer need your pain relievers, ask your pharmacist where you can dispose of unused medications.


Another way to protect yourself and your family members is by having Naloxone in your house.  Naloxone is a near magical drug that can immediately reverse an overdose situation when administered in a timely manner.  All Harmons pharmacies can dispense naloxone to you without a prescription.  However, your insurance may not pay for it or you might have a large copay. Naloxone is available for free at Utah Naloxone (http://www.utahnaloxone.org/) or at most local libraries. Naloxone is easy to administer, will not hurt the patient, and may very well save a lifeyours or the life of a loved one.

For more information on the safe use of opioids, naloxone, and drug disposal, see the following sites:

Utah Department of Health:   


Utah Department of Health


Utah Naloxone:                       




Drug Disposal Information