Knowing the rights, risks and responsibilities of prescription opioid use is an important first step to addressing the opioid epidemic. Whether you are taking medication to treat pain, or have friends or family members who have been prescribed opioids, knowing the facts can help prevent misuse before it occurs.
NCL recently partnered with the Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) to create a new batch of resources to help educate consumers about prescription opioid safety. The new Consumer Toolkit includes educational materials to help reinforce the need for patients, caregivers, parents, and others to understand their rights, risks, and responsibilities associated with prescription opioid use.
Prescription opioids are medications prescribed by healthcare providers to treat moderate to severe pain for health conditions that cause ongoing discomfort as well as for pain following surgery or injury. Common prescription opioids include:
If you are not sure if your medicine is an opioid, check your prescription labels to look for generic names. The National Safety Council also provides a helpful chart of medicines that contain opioids. You should always ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are not able to find the name or have questions.
Watch for risk factors associated with prescription opioids, including:
- Mixing opioids with other medications, drugs, nutritional supplements or alcohol
- Taking more than prescribed
- Taking a high daily dose of opioids
- Certain conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV, sleep apnea, or liver or lung disease
- Older age
- Family history of substance abuse
Let your doctor know if you or your loved ones have any of these risk factors before filling any opioid prescription.
“Opioid misuse often starts in the home, so safe storage and disposal are key to prevention,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL. “Make sure that prescription opioids are stored securely and remember to properly dispose of all unused prescription opioids as soon as possible.”
AAOA offers a safe disposal locator for you to find a place to safety get rid of your unused medications. Find details on safe disposal options here.