What are the risks of using prescription opioids for pain, especially chronic pain?

The two most serious risks with an opioid prescription are overdose and addiction. Prescription opioids can also have a number of long-term side effects, even when taken as directed. These include tolerance (needing to take more of a medication for the same pain relief) and physical dependence (having symptoms of withdrawal when the medication is stopped). Other side effects may include increased sensitivity to pain, constipation, nausea, sleepiness, confusion, and depression.

You can start a discussion with your doctor with these kinds of questions:

  • How will I know if I am building a tolerance to or dependence on this prescription?
  • What should I do if I think I am having a side effect?
  • How often should I check in with you about this prescription?
  • Will I have any withdrawal issues when this prescription runs out?

Show All Answers

1. Why do I need this medication? Is it right for me?
2. What are the risks of using prescription opioids for pain, especially chronic pain?
3. Are there non-opioid alternatives that could help with pain relief while I recover?
4. How long should I take this medication?
5. What if I have a history of addiction with tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs? What if there is a history of addiction in my family?
6. Could this treatment interact with my other medicines, especially ones prescribed for anxiety, sleeping problems, or seizures?
7. Can I share this medication with someone else? Why not?
8. How can I reduce the risk of potential side effects from this medication?
9. How should I store my opioid medication to prevent other people from taking it?
10. What should I do with unused opioid medicine?
11. How do I view additional resources from Save Lives Kenosha?