The steps you take before filling an opioid prescription can save a life.
Sadly, many addictions start at home.
Twenty-five percent of those prescribed opioid medication will mis-use it, including taking too many or taking it for too long.
Unused pills can be a temptation to friends or family members or could be passed on to strangers. Simple precautions at the beginning of opioid treatment can prevent unhealthy decisions later on.
When you discuss pain management with your physician, don’t assume that an opioid is the right choice for you. Sometimes acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen can work better with fewer side effects (which include the possibility of addiction).
No two people have the same pain threshold; your sister could be in agony after disc surgery while you could pop an aspirin and feel fine. Physical therapy and/or behavioral therapy, which teaches cognitive techniques to modify pain triggers, can also be a part of pain management. Ask questions before accepting a prescription.
If you decide that opioids are the right choice for you, ask to be prescribed only what's necessary. Don’t assume a refill will be needed. If pain persists, follow up with your doctor to discuss your options.
Never take home more than you need and make sure the prescription is in a secure place, out of the reach of others. According to the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 54% of young people using opioids report getting them from a friend or family member.
What do you do if there are leftovers? Ask your pharmacist about take-back programs or community collection sites. (Do not keep them for ‘the next time’ you’re in pain and never share opioids with others.) If you can’t locate a collection site, flush the excess down the toilet using the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines (HERE).
The responsible use of any medication is a great lesson to teach your children.
If you’d like more information on how to use opioids safely, The Center for Disease Control has valuable guides to help you before and after the prescription is written.
Lora Lewis is a content creator with Beasley Media Group and is based out of Philadelphia.