The use of opioids for pain relief has increased drastically over the years.

In fact, one in seven people in Ontario is prescribed an opioid medication according to the Ministry of Health.

But even with those numbers, a North Bay pharmacist says prescriptions for opioids have actually gone down.

Opioids are prescribed by a physician for pain relief and often the medications have proven to be beneficial.

Fentanyl patches are prescribed for pain relief

But over the last decade, the risks of harm from opioid medications have become very apparent, from addiction to deadly overdoses.

Now pharmacists in North Bay, and soon across the province, are stepping up and making sure when a patient is prescribed an opioid, they know the risks associated.

Opioid warning label

"Every pharmacy will be legislated, as of October 1st, to put on a warning label, plus give out a warning leaflet as to the dangers and educate them on the use of their drugs." said North Bay pharmacist Brian Chute.

The information sheet includes a number of risk factors associated with taking the drugs and what someone should do in the event of an overdose.

Opioid information pamphlet

"In our community when an overdose happens, people are not always calling 911. And I think the thing to remember is that anybody can become addicted to opioids, regardless of your age or your background, an overdose doesn't discriminate." said Auburn Larose of North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit.

A recent statistic from the Ministry of Health tells us more than 9-million opioid prescriptions are written every year in Ontario.

"The doctors are prescribing less opioids. They are bringing down prescriptions. If you're on a high dose of whatever one, oxycodone or Percocet, the doctors are looking at the guidelines and they are bringing patients down to a more comfortable level." said Chute.

With Friday being Overdose Awareness Day, the health unit is reminding people with opioid prescriptions they can pick up a free naloxone kit at their local pharmacy or health unit.