The Need to Know About Opioids
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The Need to Know About Opioids

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Opioids are a prescription medication used to relieve moderate to severe pain. They can be used for short or long-term pain. Opioids do not cure pain, rather help manage pain. It important to follow the directions prescribed by your medical provider to ensure you are taking opioid medication correctly. If not, there are serious risks of addiction, tolerance, physical dependence and overdose, especially with prolonged use.

If you have short or long-term pain, talk to your doctor about non-opioid solutions for pain management. Some options that may be just as effective with less risk include: over the counter pain relievers, medications used for depressions or seizures, physical therapy and exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy.

If you and your doctor find opioids are necessary, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention recommends these tips:

  • Never take opioids in greater amounts or more often than prescribed.
  • Follow up with your primary health care provider regarding medication and pain management.
    • Work together to create a plan on how to manage your pain.
    • Talk about ways to help manage your pain that don’t involve prescription opioids.
    • Talk about any and all concerns and side effects.
    • Help prevent misuse and abuse.
      • Never sell or share prescription opioids.
      • Never use another person’s prescription opioids.
      • Store prescription opioids in a secure place and out of reach of others (this may include visitors, children, friends, and family).
      • Safely dispose of unused prescription opioids:
        • Find your community drug take-back program or your pharmacy mail-back program. In the Tri-States, you can take opioids to the following pharmacies for proper disposal:
          • Hartig Drug, 1600 University Avenue, Dubuque
          • Walgreens, 55 J F Kennedy Road, Dubuque
          • Mercy Family Pharmacy, 1920 Elm Street, Dubuque
          • Dubuque Police Department, 770 Iowa Street, Dubuque
          • Dyersville Police Department, 338 1s Avenue East, Dyersville
  • Following guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, opioids and other medications can be flushed down the toilet. For a complete list of medications that can be flushed, click here.

Individuals who have a history of substance abuse are more likely to develop an addition to opioids. However, teenagers, older adults, individuals who suffer from depression, have sleep apnea or are taking high doses of medicine are all also at additional risk. Signs of additions may include:

  • Your drug use is having a bad effect on your family life, your job, or other activities.
  • You keep using the drug even though it is actually harming your body or your behavior.
  • You're taking larger amounts of the drug than was intended. Or you're taking it longer than was intended.
If you believe you may be struggling with addiction, tell your health care provider and ask for guidance or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.