Play It Safe with Opioid Prescriptions
Opioids are strong prescription painkillers that come with a big responsibility. While these powerful pain medications have their place—such as when recovering from surgery or treating cancer pain—misuse can lead to addiction, overdose, or even death. An estimated 48 Americans die from overdosing on prescription opioids every day.
If you get a pain prescription, ask your doctor if it’s an opioid and discuss these important issues to treat your pain safely:
Keep opioid prescriptions in a safe place. Keep these medications locked up. Accidental opioid poisoning can be fatal for young children. Easy access for friends and family members can lead to misuse. When you are feeling better, dispose of any leftover medication. Call your health care provider or local police for safe locations to dispose of them.
Follow the prescription exactly. Don’t increase your dose or take it more often than instructed. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any other prescription or over-the-counter medications you take, especially sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs, to avoid any possibly dangerous drug interactions. For short-term pain needs, you also can talk to your prescribing doctor about requesting a smaller quantity of opioids when he or she writes the prescription.
Ask about alternatives to opioids. Opioids don’t work well for every patient or every condition. Often, non-medication alternatives such as physical therapy, injections, and exercise can be effective for some types of chronic pain. Other non-opioid pain relievers or medications for underlying conditions may also be an option for other types of pain, such as arthritis and migraines.
For Your Health
Finding a primary care provider is a key part of maintaining your health and wellness. At Western Connecticut Health Network, we can help you find a provider who’s right for you.