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Common types of opioid-based medications include codeine (Panadeine®, Panadeine Forte® and Nurofen Plus®), fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone (Endone® or OxyContin®), buprenorphine (Subutex® or Suboxone®), methadone and tramadol.

They produce feelings of pain relief in the same way as other opioids such as heroin. Opioid-based medications are commonly prescribed by doctors, and until 2018, some lower strength opioids could be bought over the counter. However opioid-based medications are now only available with a prescription.

Many people don’t realise that many medications prescribed for pain relief can cause dependence. If they are overused or combined with other drugs that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, they may also cause overdose. Pharmaceutical opioids now account for more drug-related deaths in Australia than any other drug category.3

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