Opioids offer you amazing pain relief …with serious risks attached.
- Risks of addiction
- Risks of overdose
- Risks of diversion (your children or others that you care about)
Fortunately, with responsible use and safe practices you eliminate most of your risks.
Worried about taking opioids? Well, you don’t have to be, just adhere to the following 8 guidelines from the American Academy of Pain Medicine and you cut your risks of ever experiencing a problem substantially.
The 8 Commandments of Safe Opioid Use1
- If it wasn’t prescribed to you – don’t take it! Never share or borrow prescription medications, especially opioids.
- Alcohol and opioids don’t mix. To be safe, never combine them.
- Know that anti-anxiety medications and sleeping medications can be dangerous when combined with opioids. Don’t use the two together without talking to your doctor first (some benzodiazepines can stay in your system for more than a day, so the anti-anxiety pill you took yesterday could interact with an opioid you take today.)
- Don’t change your dose. Sometimes you might feel like you need more pain relief than usual and you might feel tempted to up your dosage a little bit. Don’t do this! Upping your doses on your own is a stepping stone on the path to addiction.
- Tell your doctor about all medications you use, including OTC medications and herbal supplements.
- Keep track of when you take your medication. Inadvertently doubling your dose increases your risks of overdose – have a system in place to reduce the odds of double dosing, such as always taking medications at the same time each day, or by separating your daily meds into pill boxes that are separate from your supply.
- Lock up your medication. Medicine cabinet opioids are tempting to teens and others. By limiting access you could save a life.
- Likewise, never save unused medication.
That’s it. Follow these 8 easy guidelines and your odds of ever having a problem plummet.
Page last updated May 20, 2014