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You can start the discussion by asking questions, such as:
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:
You can have a discussion with your doctor about ways to manage your pain that don’t involve prescription opioids. Some of these options may actually work as well or better but may also have their own side effects.
Options you can discuss include:
Ask that your doctor prescribe the lowest dose and the smallest quantity you may need and find out when to call to follow up on how well it is working. Find out when and how to stop taking opioids, including tapering them.
Some questions you can ask are:
Tell your doctor about any history you have had with substance misuse or addiction to alcohol or other drugs or if you have a history of smoking cigarettes. You should also tell your healthcare provider if anyone in your family has had a problem with substance misuse or addiction.
Some ways to start this discussion include:
It is important that you tell your doctor about all of the medicines you take, especially those prescribed to treat anxiety, sleeping problems, or seizures. Even medicines you take only occasionally or are over-the-counter could interact with the opioid pain medicine. Don't count on your doctor to know what medications you are taking, even if they prescribed them to you.
Some good ways to start this discussion are:
Do not give other people your prescriptions!
There are both federal and state laws that make using or sharing your prescription drugs illegal. If you take a pill that was prescribed to someone else or give that pill to another person, not only is it against the law, it's extremely dangerous. Doctors write specific prescriptions to remedy your specific condition. A painkiller prescription for your knee surgery is not going to be the same prescription your daughter would get for a jammed finger or toothache.
Take your medicine exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you are still feeling pain, call your doctor; do not take an extra dose. Learn to identify serious side effects so you and your family know when to call a doctor or go to the hospital. Ask your pharmacist if your prescription comes with a Medication Guide (paper handouts that come with many prescription medicines) for more information.
Good questions to ask include:
Secure your medications. Consider a lock box for your medications. Even one accidental dose of an opioid pain medicine meant for an adult can cause a fatal overdose in a child or anyone not used to taking this type of medication. Anyone (including teenagers) in the home or friends who are visiting may seek out opioid pain medicines for nonmedical use. This is actually one of the most common sources of opioid supply for abusers. Don’t leave prescription opioids in the medicine cabinet or out in plain view.
Your leftover opioids can be taken by people you’d never expect to take them: friends, relatives, and even your kids and their friends. Proper disposal is the only guarantee that none of your leftover opioids will be misused or lead to an overdose.
Dispose of your unused medications when the reason you were prescribed them is no longer relevant. It’s important to get rid of partially-used prescriptions that so many of us have lying around. Holding on to a prescription “just in case” you need it again one day is not a good idea. Any accident or impaired driving charge that occurs while under the influence of drugs taken not as prescribed or taken outside the prescribed period can lead to enhanced charges, including charges of possession of controlled substances because, technically speaking, those medications are illegal.
View the Safe Medication Disposal page for locations in Kenosha County where you can dispose of unused medications.