The use of Opiate painkillers in Australia has been described as "the silent epidemic". This mainly refers to people legally prescribed painkillers but young people accessing support also often favour opiate medications.


Opiate painkillers are medicines usually prescribed post-surgery or for chronic pain. Most opioid analgesics used off prescription are diverted from prescription use, rather than being illegally manufactured. Non-prescribed use is illegal.

In Australia as of February 2018 you will not be able to buy over the counter pain killers that contain codeine.


Brand names : - Tylenol III, Demerol, Vicodin, Percocet, morphine, , OxyContin, Oxycodone, MS Contin, , Panadiene, Panadiene Forte,  Codeine, Mersyndol

Nicknames: - captain cody, schoolboy, doors and fours, loads, M, monkey, white stuff, demmies, pain killer, apache, China girl, goodfella, jackpot, TNT, Oxies, hillbilly heroin


In 2013, 1.2 per cent of the Australians aged 14 years and over had used analgesics (painkillers including opioids) for non-medical purposes in the previous 12 months (National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2013). 


Tablets or capsules in various shapes and colours, sometimes ground into powder or liquid.


Injested, snorted or injected.


Pain relief, feelings of wellbeing, relaxation and sleepiness. Or constipation, vomiting, sweating, itching, and mood swings.


Shallow breathing, blue lips, inability to be roused or woken. An ambulance should be called if any of these symptoms occur.


Alcohol, or other depressants such as benzos, which can significantly increase the chance of overdose and death.

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Try the YouthAOD toolbox for further in-depth information.


Encourage a young person to: -

  • understand the risks involved in mixing other drugs and alcohol, including prescription medication.
  • seek medical assistance if they are wishing to stop use of opiate painkillers. The 2016 Withdrawal Guidelines are great to help a worker advocate for a young person with a GP.
  • Understand that there are ways to inject safely if they are injecting.
  • Understand route in which they are taking the drug can affect how quickly it affects a person.
  • See more Universal Harm Reduction Strategies

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Try the YouthAOD toolbox for further in-depth information.