Get Serious, They’re Opioids
Safe use of a prescription pain reliever starts with a conversation with your doctor, dentist or pharmacist. Know what to ask before you’re prescribed a prescription pain reliever — download the appointment checklist.
Use Only as Directed
Preventing prescription drug misuse starts with taking prescription and over-the-counter medications exactly as directed by your health care provider and as indicated on the package. Taking more than the prescribed dose can put your health at risk and lead to an overdose.
Opioids can be taken safely if prescribed and used as directed by a doctor. However, long-term opioid use does increase the chance for opioid use disorder and overdose. You might want to consider getting naloxone, an FDA-approved medication that can reverse an overdose. Learn more at bringnaloxonehome.org.
Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can have dangerous and even fatal interactions when they’re mixed in the wrong combinations. That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor, dentist or pharmacist about all the prescription or over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements you take. It may be helpful to use this downloadable medication list to keep track of what you are taking.
You should never share your medication with friends and family. Medications are prescribed with you and only you in mind. Use by others can have serious and even deadly side effects.
Signs of Opioid Use Disorder
Misuse or long-term use of prescription pain and anxiety medications can lead to dependency or a substance use disorder. It can begin with the feeling of “needing” the drug to feel “normal,” and then can grow into a use disorder.
Signs of dependency include:
- Taking medication more often than directed by a doctor or running out of medication early;
- Spending more time obtaining prescriptions;
- Cash, valuables and medicine missing from the home;
- Mood and personality changes;
- Becoming defensive when the topic of dependency is brought up;
- Excessive drowsiness and lack of appetite;
- Withdrawal from friends, family or social activities;
- Neglecting every day responsibilities such as childcare or work;
- Increasingly sensitive to normal sights, sounds and emotions;
- Blackouts and forgetfulness.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder related to prescription or illegal drug abuse, find help at Colorado LADDERS, a resource for prevention, treatment and recovery for substance use and mental health conditions.
To obtain a valid prescription, a doctor must physically examine the patient. Prescriptions written by “cyber doctors” that rely on online questionnaires to treat a patient’s condition are illegal.