Prescription pain medications (opioids) are powerful drugs. They can be effective if they’re used safely, but if they’re misused, a person can become addicted to them. Addiction occurs when a person continues to take drugs or alcohol repeatedly, despite the harm they cause to the person’s life.
Prescription pain medications can also cause nausea (feeling sick to the stomach), slow down a person’s breathing, and even stop the breathing completely, leading to death.
Follow these four important steps to help you and your family stay safe when it comes to prescription opioids:
- If a doctor or dentist prescribes a pain medication for you or someone in your family, ask if the medication contains an opioid. Talk about the risks, and consider asking if there are different treatments that could work.
- If an opioid is prescribed for someone in your family who has a history of drug use, addiction, or mental illness, tell the doctor or dentist immediately. Any of these factors can increase a person’s risk for opioid addiction.
- Take opioids exactly the way they were prescribed, and never use them for any other reason. Never share medications with anyone else.
- If you have leftover pills, get rid of them safely. Learn the steps to do that and discover programs in your area that take back unused medications.