A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine
Misuse and Abuse continued...
According to the National Institutes of Health, studies have shown that properly managed medical use of opioid analgesic compounds (taken exactly as prescribed) is safe, can manage pain effectively, and rarely causes addiction.
But the abuse of opioids is a significant public safety concern. Abusers ingest these drugs orally, and also crush the pills in order to snort or inject them.
Commonly abused opioid pain medicines include prescription drugs such as codeine, and the brand-name products Oxycontin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone with acetaminophen), and Demerol (meperidine).
Addiction is just one serious danger of opioid abuse. A number of overdose deaths have resulted from snorting and injecting opioids, particularly the drug OxyContin, which was designed to be a slow-release formulation.
Use Opioids Safely: 3 Key Steps
- Keep your doctor informed. Inform your health care professional about any past history of substance abuse. All patients treated with opioids for pain require careful monitoring by their health care professional for signs of abuse and addiction, and to determine when these analgesics are no longer needed.
- Follow directions carefully. Opioids are associated with significant side effects, including drowsiness, constipation, and depressed breathing depending on the amount taken. Taking too much could cause severe respiratory depression or death. Do not crush or break pills. This can alter the rate at which the medication is absorbed and lead to overdose and death.
- Reduce the risk of drug interactions. Don't mix opioids with alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, or benzodiazepines. All of these substances slow breathing and their combined effects could lead to life-threatening respiratory depression.