Almost everyone has heard about the high rates of opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose in the United States. If you’re currently taking prescription opioids or your doctor has discussed them with you, you may be wondering if you should take them. Opioids are highly addictive but for some people, they’re the best treatment option. You will need to work closely with your doctor to determine if they’re right for you. However, in this post, we’ll share some tips on how opioids can be used safely. If you or a loved one has developed a problem with opioid use, you need to seek help from an opioid treatment professional.
Risk Factors for Opioid Abuse and Addiction
Anyone can experience dangerous side effects from using opioids. However, some people are more at risk than others. Before prescribing Vicodin or OxyContin, your doctor will consider your medical history, your history of substance abuse, and your family history. Some medical conditions put you at greater risk of opioid abuse and addiction including:
- Sleep apnea
Your risk level also increases if you:
- Have a personal history of substance abuse
- Have a family history of substance abuse
- Have a history of heavy tobacco use
- Have been through drug or alcohol rehabilitation
It’s important that you’re honest with your doctor and that you ask questions so you’re clear about the risks. Opioids need to be managed carefully since abuse can ultimately result in death.
How Doctors Work to Ensure Patients Use Opioids Safely
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides recommendations to doctors to help them prescribe opioids safely. Your physician may, therefore:
- Give you the lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible if you have acute pain. Pain resulting from surgery or a bone fracture usually doesn’t require more than three days of opioid use.
- Delay prescribing opioids if you have chronic pain. If you have long-term pain that’s not related to cancer or cancer treatment, your doctor is likely to do everything possible to avoid having you take opioids. They’ll suggest that you take other medications or try other types of treatment.
- Help you to come up with realistic treatment goals. There’s no cure for chronic pain so your doctor will help you to determine how much relief you need to improve your quality of life.
- Request that you sign an agreement before you start a long-term course of opioid medications. These agreements set out your responsibilities while you’re undergoing treatment. Typically, you would have to agree to only get opioids from one doctor and from one pharmacy and to use them as prescribed. You’ll also acknowledge that you won’t get more medication until your prescription runs out. In addition, you may have to submit to urine tests or pill counts.
- Help to limit your withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking opioids. When it’s time for you to stop taking opioids for chronic pain, your doctor should help you to taper off your usage to avoid severe side effects.
How to Make Sure You Use Opioids Safely
You also have a major role to play in ensuring you use these drugs safely. You’ll need to:
- Notify all of your healthcare providers about all of the medications and supplements you’re taking. Not doing so could be deadly.
- Get all your medications from the same pharmacy as much as possible. This helps to ensure you don’t take drugs with dangerous interactions.
- Read the instructions and warnings that come with your medications.
- Tell your doctor about any side effects you experience.
- Dispose of unused or expired medication in the proper way.
Signs You’re Developing a Problem
Opioids can affect your judgment and you may begin to take risks and put yourself in danger. Knowing the signs of opioid abuse can alert you to the need to talk to your doctor about reducing your dosage. Indicators of abuse include:
- Repeatedly taking more than the prescribed dose
- Taking drugs even when you’re not experiencing pain
- Using medication prescribed for someone else or borrowing it from other people
- Spending lots of time thinking about taking opioids.
You’ll need to tell your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.
Contact Asheville Recovery Center to Learn About Our Treatment Options
If you’ve developed a problem with opioid use, you need to seek treatment. No matter how long you’ve been struggling, you can recover. At Asheville Recovery Center, we take a personalized approach to each client. Call us to learn about our treatment options.