Opioids are prescription pain medications prescribed for both short term and long-term pain. They are highly effective at treating pain but come with many side effects. Opioids can be dangerous, even when prescribed by a physician and taken responsibly. If you are taking opioids, it is important to speak with your doctor about proper use and develop a plan to use the medication safely. Below is a list of safety tips for a patient taking opioids to keep in mind to avoid negative side effects and ensure safety:
1. Always Use Opioids as Prescribed
It is important to always use opioids as directed by a physician. Doctors will be able to determine the appropriate dose to avoid side effects such as sickness, dizziness, and others. Taking more than prescribed may lead to increased side effects, including addiction and overdose.
2. Never Mix Alcohol or Other Drugs with Opioids
Mixing various drugs can lead to adverse reactions and severe side effects. Opioids are especially susceptible to these side effects, and it only takes a small amount to overdose. Benzodiazepines especially are very dangerous to mix with opioids and may lead to respiratory arrest. Alcohol and opioids, as well as many other common drugs mixed together, may lead to an overdose and should only be used as directed by a physician.
3. Consider Obtaining Narcan (Opioid Overdose Reversal Medication)
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. For some users, especially long-term pain management patients on higher doses or others prescribed a combination of many medications at once, obtaining Narcan may be an effective tool to help ensure using the opioids safely. In case of an accidental overdose, Narcan can reverse the effects immediately. Narcan is available over the counter in many jurisdictions.
4. Never Drive or Operate Heavy Machinery While Using Opioids
Typically stated on the prescription bottle itself, operating machinery, or a motor vehicle under the influence of opioids may result in a crash and injury, therefore should be avoided. Opioids affect the nervous system and produce side effects such as dizziness and sleepiness that have a negative impact on mental performance.
5. Carefully Read and Follow the Label Directions Prior To Taking the Medicine
When you get the opioid prescription filled, be sure to check the package to ensure it’s the right medication, at the appropriate dosage as prescribed. Follow the label directions and take the medication as directed by your prescriber.
6. Store Your Opioids Safely
This makes sure your loved ones won’t have access to dangerous medication and ensures you can have your medication to be taken on time as prescribed, without missing days.
7. Dispose of Your Opioids Safely
When no longer needed, be sure to properly dispose of opioid medications. There are many methods available including a drug take-back program, which will ensure the dangerous drugs are disposed of properly and not abused.
8. Always Seek Appropriate Help When Ready to Cease Usage
It is important to seek expert help when ready to stop using opioids, since suddenly stopping use may lead to severe withdrawal and potentially life-threatening symptoms. With the ANR Treatment, we restore the patient’s endorphin system to a pre-addiction state, freeing them from severe addiction and allowing them to overcome the withdrawals and cravings, without using replacement drugs or therapy.