5 questions to ask when you’re prescribed an opioid painkiller - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

5 questions to ask when you’re prescribed an opioid painkiller

Opioids (Source: file photo) Opioids (Source: file photo)

Sometimes medical conditions, injuries or accidents require a prescription painkiller, typically recommended by a physician. In some cases, the prescription may be an opioid pain killer.

It is important to know what to ask when prescribed medication, as there are certain risks that come with taking different medicines. By preparing yourself to discuss your choices with your physicians and pharmacists, you will be able to avoid certain risks that come with taking opioid medications. 

According to the National Safety Council, 60 people die every day from opioid pain medications. As reported on their website, “Opioids are being over prescribed. And it is not children reaching in medicine cabinets who have made drug poisoning the #1 cause of unintentional death in the United States. Adults have been prescribed opioids by doctors and subsequently become addicted or move from pills to heroin.”

In light of the opioid addiction epidemic that has spread across the country, it is important to know what to ask when prescribed an opioid pain killer:

  1. Is this prescription addictive, and if so, what are the non-addictive alternatives?
  2. Is this prescription necessary, and if so, is a short term prescription available?
  3. Do any of my medical conditions increase the risks associated with taking this prescription?
  4. How will taking this medication delay my recovery?
  5. How will I know if my prescribed medication is causing me MORE pain?

Organizations like the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority and the National Safety Council provide resources, information and support for families, employers, and prescribers to help keep you safe at home and in your community.

More Information from the National Safety Council:

NON-ADDICTIVE ALTERNATIVES
Studies have shown that opioid pain killers like Percocet and Vicodin are no more effective than many of the non-addicting alternatives. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen treat pain as effectively as opioids and have less side-effects.

SHORT TERM PRESCRIPTION OPTION
Some doctors may think that you need medication in addition to NSAIDs or may feel that NSAIDs should not be used in your case. If this happens, ask if a 3 day prescription is appropriate. Many doctors tend to prescribe a 7-10 day supply of opioids which is seldom necessary.

BE SURE TO TELL YOUR PROVIDER IF YOU HAVE THESE MEDICAL CONDITIONS
The following medical conditions may increase the risks associated with taking opioid painkillers:

  • COPD-(chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • History of addiction
  • Chronic constipation

ALSO BE SURE TO DISCUSS:

  • Family history of addiction or alcoholism
  • Working in a safety-sensitive position
  • How your driving will be affected initially, and ongoing

OTHER IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR YOUR MEDICAL PROVIDER

  • If you are taking this after an injury, will taking opioids delay your recovery? Studies have shown that opioid pain relievers may delay recovery and increase your risk of permanent disability.
  • If surgery is expected, how will this affect the outcome? If taken prior to surgery, opioid medications may delay your recovery from orthopedic surgery.
  • How can I know if these pills are causing me to experience MORE pain? Longer term use of opioid medications can cause a condition called opioid hyperalgesia where your experience of pain actually increases.

Click here to learn more about Richmond Behavioral Health Authority. 

MORE ON THE OPIOID CRISIS:

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