Tips for Taking Opioids Safely

Opioids can be an effective means of pain control. However, their use can also put you at risk for drug dependence and addiction.

If you need to take opioid medications to manage chronic pain from herniated discs or other conditions, our team at New Tampa Interventional Pain & Sports Medicine can provide guidance to help you use them safely.

Pain management specialist Jose De La Torre, MD, also provides comprehensive care if you’ve already found yourself in trouble with opioid abuse. Dr. De La Torre offers Suboxone® therapy to help you overcome opioid addiction and can customize a pain management plan to prevent additional issues with addiction.

An overview of opioids

Opioids are a class of drugs that can effectively relieve and prevent chronic pain. These prescription drugs include:

There are also illegal types of opioids such as heroin.

Opioids can cause side effects, including drowsiness, mental fog, and can also slow your breathing. Taking too high a dose of an opioid medication can lead to an overdose and accidental death.

How addiction to opioids starts

Taking prescription opioids to manage your pain can increase your risk for dependence and addiction. Opioid dependence occurs when you experience withdrawal symptoms from not taking the medication.

When you develop an addiction to opioids, it causes changes in your brain that make you obsess about getting the drug, even if it involves reckless or illegal behavior.

Recovery from an opioid addiction is often difficult because of the severity of withdrawal effects that occur when you stop using the medication. These withdrawals can lead people deeper into their addiction, as can the reckless behaviors addicts display when under the influence of opioids.

To reduce your risk for dependence or addiction to opioids, our team at New Tampa Interventional Pain & Sports Medicine provides resources to help you manage pain and use your medications properly.

Tips to help you take opioids safely

Whenever you need to take medications, especially opioids and other pain relievers, it's essential that you follow your doctor’s orders. You should also:

1. Take your medications as prescribed

Always follow the directions printed on your prescription bottle for taking your medications. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist what you should do if you miss a dose, and never take extra doses of medications, even if you still have pain.

2. Don’t alter your medicines

For your safety, never chew, crush, break, or dissolve opioid medications. Take your medications whole with a full glass of water and if recommended, food.

3. Pay attention to side effects

If you experience any side effects after taking your medications, call our office immediately. Dr. De La Torre can evaluate your treatment plan to determine if changes are needed.

4. Don’t drive when medicated

A common side effect of opioids is drowsiness. It’s important that you don’t drive or operate any heavy machinery when taking your medications. This is especially true when you start a new medication since you won’t know what to expect.

5. Take advantage of your pharmacy’s safety protocol

Using the same pharmacy for all of your prescription fills offers benefits like conflict alerts if any of the medications you’re taking could cause a negative interaction.

6. Dispose of unneeded medications responsibly

Once you’re finished your course of treatment and no longer need opioids, be sure to dispose of them properly. You can ask our team for referrals to safely get rid of the medicine or speak with your pharmacist about any mail-back programs that are available.

If you have concerns about your use or abuse of opioids, call New Tampa Interventional Pain & Sports Medicine, or book a consultation online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Can Plantar Fasciitis Be Cured?

About two million Americans seek treatment every year for foot pain related to plantar fasciitis. Learn more about this common pain condition, some of the most widely used treatments, and whether or not it’s curable.

Warning Signs of a Herniated Disc

Ignoring early warning signs of a herniated disc can lead to intense pain, decreased mobility, and long-term complications. Learn more about what causes a herniated disc and how to recognize the symptoms, so you can get the treatment you need.

Why You Shouldn’t Suffer Through Migraines

If you’re one of the 35 million Americans suffering in silence with migraines, getting the right treatment can reduce your risk for more serious conditions. Learn about the possible long-term effects of migraines and how to prevent them.

Managing Opioid Addiction: There Is Hope

The risk for developing an opioid addiction remains high for those who live with chronic pain. Find out how you can overcome an addiction to opioids and still manage chronic pain with Suboxone® therapy.

The Link Between Depression and Chronic Pain

The debilitating effects of chronic pain are often made worse by depression. Learn more about the strong connection between chronic pain conditions and depression and how you find long-term relief of both with interventional pain strategies.