There are a number of reasons why a doctor may prescribe pain medication to patients including terminal illnesses, injuries, and surgery. Opioids like OxyCotin, Vicodin, and Morphine, when used appropriately, can help manage moderate to severe pain. These should only be used with a great deal of care because unfortunately, no one can predict if a person may become addicted.
The opioid epidemic is a growing concern – if a doctor prescribes you or a loved one opioid medication, be sure to talk to them to understand the risks associated, possible side effects, any concerns you may have, and the best ways to reduce the risk of addiction. They may also have information on pain management options with fewer risks and side effects, including
- Tylenol or Advil
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- And more.
While people can use opioids safely, the potential for addiction is high. For those who take prescription opioids, the CDC recommends:
- Following directions as explained by the label or pharmacist
- Talking to your doctor before stopping or changing your medication
- Avoiding mixing opioids with other drugs or alcohol without your doctor’s approval.
- Never share or sell prescription medications.
- Storing prescription drugs, including opioids, sedatives, and stimulants, safely.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA), more than half of people who misuse opioids get them from friends or relatives. If you have been prescribed opioids, your household members are also at risk of misusing the drug. Be sure to store medication out of reach of children and away from others.
Old and unused medications should be disposed of safely. Pharmacies and health care clinics may both provide drop-off boxes. Please visit the Safe Medicine Disposal Program for a list of drop-off locations in Sonoma and Mendocino County, please visit the Safe Medicine Disposal Program.
It is important for those affected by drug addiction to know that addiction is a chronic disease and help is available. A combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors can all contribute to the risk of addiction, and over time, using opioids changes the brain’s reward system and interferes with the ability to resist the urge to use.
Addiction treatment is different for each person. While Narcan is a tool during an emergency to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, addiction treatment is more than education and overdose prevention. Medication-Assisted programs like Project Hope help alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms and reduce opioid dependence through supervised medication like Methadone, Buprenorphine, or Naltrexone, combined with counseling and behavioral therapy.