If you are taking opioids or talking with your health care provider about this treatment option, it is crucial to plan for the safe use and disposal of these medications.

Education about opioids and using caution can mean the difference between life and death for you. This will benefit not only you but your family and friends as well. Most people who misuse prescription painkillers report getting them from a family member or friend.

Opioids are highly addictive. After just five days of prescription opioid use, the likelihood that you’ll develop long-term dependence on these drugs rises steeply.

Here are 10 Tips for staying safe and healthy if you are taking opioid medications:

1. Try limiting your opioid use to no more than three days.
In most cases, acute pain, such as pain that follows surgery or a bone fracture, is not severe enough to require opioids for more than three days.

2. Understand that there’s no cure for chronic pain.
Even with drugs as powerful as opioids, they cannot cure your chronic pain. And there are risks associated with all pain medications.

3. Establish a plan to stop taking opioids with your doctor.
If you’ve taken opioids for chronic pain and determine it’s time to stop, your health care provider should help you slowly and safely taper off these drugs to avoid potentially severe side effects.

4. Tell all of your providers about all of the drugs you’re taking.
Opioids interact dangerously with many medications. Each provider must be aware of all the medication you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, allergy medicine and nutritional supplements.

5. Order all your medications through the same pharmacy whenever possible.
The pharmacy has systems in place that alert pharmacists to potentially dangerous interactions. Sticking with one pharmacy will reduce the chances of confusion when prescribing the medications.

6. Read the instructions and warnings.
On the drug safety information sheet stapled to your prescription there are instructions and warnings placed there to keep you safe. Don’t ignore them. Read them thoroughly until you comprehend what they are saying.

7. Pay attention to side effects.
If you have any side effects, such as constipation, nausea, mood changes or confusion, contact a member of your health care team immediately.

8. Keep your prescription paperwork with you at all times.
Some states have laws requiring you to keep opioid medication in the bottle it came in—or keep a copy of the prescription with you—when you leave your home.

9. Be ready if pain spikes.
Have a plan in place for dealing with unexpected pain. Ask your doctor what you should do if your pain flares or intensifies. Don’t assume you should take more of your regular medication. Your doctor may recommend another medication for short-term relief.

10. Be open to alternative methods to manage your pain.
Talk to your doctor about trying an alternative pain relief strategy in addition to your opioid medication. Many people find complementary or alternative therapies, as well as daily exercise, effective in easing pain.

We want to work with you as your pain specialist. To book an appointment, call us today at (909) 887-2991.

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