When the Prescription Is the Problem

pills-1885550_1280What You Need to Know About Opioids

Prescription opioids can be used to help relieve moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following a surgery or injury. These medications can be an important part of treatment but also come with serious risks.

Anyone who takes prescription opioids—even for a short while—can become addicted to them. In fact, as many as 1 in 4 patients taking prescription opioids for long-term pain relief struggles with opioid addiction. Once addicted, it can be hard to stop and could lead to drug abuse and overdose death.


Talk to your doctor about other ways to manage your pain. Some options may work better than opioids and have fewer risks and side effects.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®)
  • Exercise and weight loss • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is goal-directed “talk therapy” focused on managing the triggers that cause pain and stress
  • Complementary treatments, such as yoga, chiropractic medicine, meditation, acupuncture and massage therapy
  • Exercise therapy and physical therapy
  • Medications for depression or for seizures
  • Interventional therapies, such as injections, nerve blocks and nerve stimulation


  • Never take opioids in greater amounts or more often than prescribed
  • Work closely with your doctor to monitor your medication
  • Prevent misuse and abuse: Never sell or share prescription opioids • Store prescription opioids in a secure place and out of reach of others
  • Safely dispose of unused prescription opioids

If you believe you may be struggling with addiction, talk to your doctor or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. Source: cdc.gov/drugoverdose

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