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Opioid medicines and pain

11-minute read

Strong pain medicines are a necessary part of life for many people. But prescription pain medicines, including a group known as opioids, come both with risks — such as dependency — and side effects. They should always be taken with care.

Talk to your GP about the best ways to manage your pain. They can advise if opioids are right for you.

If a person is not breathing, or if they are unresponsive, seek help straight away. Call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Opioids and chronic pain
Department of Health Safe Opioids

Get the facts

Farmer in tractor living with chronic pain.

Chronic pain

About 1 in 8 Australians have chronic pain — pain that lasts beyond the normal healing time, of about 3 to 6 months, after injury or illness.

Opioid medicines

What are opioids?

Learn more about how opioids work and the risks and benefits of taking opioids. Know when to see your doctor and what to do in the case of an overdose.

Explore your options

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Pain Question Planner to prepare for your doctor’s appointment.

Opioid FAQs

Opioid FAQs

Got questions about opioid pain medicines? Get quick answers to some frequently asked questions.

Other ways to manage pain

Other ways to manage pain

Your doctor can help you explore other ways to manage your chronic pain, such as physiotherapy, relaxation and exercise, as well as medication.

Resources and support

Call 1300 MEDICINE on 1300 633 424 to talk about the medicines you are taking for your pain. Call from anywhere in Australia, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST (excluding New South Wales public holidays).

After hours, you can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222. Speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria).

These organisations provide further specialist information and support services:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2021

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