Prescription opioids are sometimes a necessity for those who struggle with severe pain. If you start taking these drugs, take the following steps to ensure you don’t become addicted.
10 Effective Ways to Avoid Addiction to Prescription Painkillers
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Prescription painkillers, or opioids, are commonly prescribed to treat and reduce chronic pain. Most physicians prescribe opioids for just a short period of time, given the highly addictive nature of this drug class. But when abused or not used as directed, painkillers can trigger addiction and physical dependency, and lead to more serious problems down the road.
If you or someone you care about is abusing prescription opioids, understand that help is just a phone call away. Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) to speak with an addiction treatment specialist who can guide you or your loved one to nearby rehab centers that can help.
Being more aware about the potential dangers surrounding painkiller use can help you and your loved ones avoid addiction. Here are 10 effective ways to avoid addiction to painkillers.
1. Ask About Alternate Treatments
Many physicians adopt the “opioids as a last resort” rule, meaning you may be offered alternative treatments for chronic pain management before being prescribed opioids. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about alternate treatments that may be safer than painkillers.
2. Keep Your Doctor Informed
Inform your doctor immediately if you experience any adverse side effects from painkillers, such as extreme drowsiness or insomnia. These signs could indicate your current opioid dosage is too high or too low, or that you’re developing a tolerance or physical dependency to the drug.
3. Take the Proper Dosage
Some opioids are slow-acting, meaning doubling up on doses can increase the risk for an overdose as the pills release slowly into your bloodstream at once. Only take your prescription as directed, and never increase your dosage unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
4. Don’t Crush or Open Pills
Take your painkillers exactly as directed; avoid crushing or opening your pills to experience faster pain relief. Some painkillers are designed to release slowly into your bloodstream, meaning crushing or opening pills can increase the risk for an overdose.
5. Take Doses at the Same Time Daily
Taking your painkillers at the same time every day helps ensure you experience ongoing pain relief, while also preventing you from overlapping doses. Set an alarm for the same time every day throughout painkiller treatment to stay on track with doses.
6. Avoid Mixing With Other Substances
Mixing opioids with alcohol and other drugs can have serious health implications, including overdose, coma, and/or death. Avoid using other substances when taking painkillers, or always consult with your doctor beforehand. For instance, don’t take sleeping pills if you’re already using opioids without talking to your physician first.
7. Educate Your Family
Inform your family about the risks associated with opioid use, and about the signs of overdose and addiction. This helps your family take the necessary steps in the event you experience an emergency with opioid use.
8. Don’t Share Painkillers
Sharing opioids is dangerous, and considered a felony in the U.S. Giving painkillers to family and friends increases the risk for an overdose or death, especially when individuals are already using other substances, have a low tolerance, or suffer from a history of addiction.
9. Dispose of Unused Painkillers
Contact your physician, pharmacy, or local law enforcement agency to learn about drug take-back locations that accept unused opioids. These agencies are often able to dispose safely of unused painkillers to lower the risk for accidental overdoses and addiction.
10. Hide Your Painkillers From Others
Keep your opioids locked away from friends and family members, especially those at high risk for addiction or with a history of substance abuse. Instead of storing painkillers in the medicine cabinet, place them in a lockbox, safe, or another location inaccessible to others.
If you or someone you love has a problem with painkiller abuse, call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) right away. Our caring addiction specialists will help you find nearby rehab centers that can help you or your loved one overcome addiction to prescription painkillers.