Safely Using Prescribed Opioids - What to Know | Treatment Care & Tips
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Treatment Care & Tips

When is Taking an Opioid Okay?

There is a lot of buzz and concern about opioids these days, and rightfully so.

Opioids can be incredibly useful at managing pain. However, part of what makes them such good painkillers comes with some serious, and sometimes bad, side effects, like addiction. Once someone develops an opioid dependency, they may start to use them more and more in ways that they aren’t supposed to. This is called an opioid use disorder, or OUD. OUDs have become such a big problem that they are now responsible for over 130 deaths per day* making this a National Crisis.


You can read more about how many people are affected by opioids here.


So, does all of this mean you should never take an opioid? Not necessarily. First, you should always talk to you doctor before you take an opioid. He or she can help you determine if opioids are right for you, and how to safely use them without developing an OUD. Here are a few situations when you and your doctor might decide that taking an opioid is okay.


In the hospital

  • With close supervision

Opioids might be used to help relieve pain while you are in the hospital recovering from an illness, accident or surgery. They will be given to you by a specialist who will be able to closely watch and control your opioid use to help prevent addiction.


At home

  • With a prescription

If you and your doctor agree, you may be given a prescription to take opioids at home to manage pain. It’s important that you follow your doctor’s directions.


For a short controlled time

  • Based on your doctor’s recommendation

Because opioid addiction can happen in as little as 3 days to a few weeks, it’s important to take the smallest dose possible for the shortest time possible.


Questions to ask

Here are a few questions you may want to talk to you doctor about before taking a prescribed opioid

  • Are there other options to manage my pain?
  • What are the risks connected to taking opioids?
  • How long should I continue to take opioids?
  • What should I do with unused opioid medications?


Remember, never take chances with opioids.