Home Healthy Living Guide Tips for Safely Managing Your Opioid Medication

Tips for Safely Managing Your Opioid Medication

by Dr Prem Community Writer

Before taking an opioid-based medication, it is always beneficial to look at the downsides and the benefits of the treatment. True that this medication can bring about plenty of advantages but, if not used in the correct way, can bring about disastrous effects too.

Understanding the downsides:


The drawbacks of an opioid-based medication can be very problematic such as becoming physically dependent or psychologically addicted to it. In USA, Pennsylvania 2011, a research was conducted by the Health System on addiction level of opioid medications.

The results were dramatic: a whopping 35% of the population was found to be addicted to this “pain-killer”.

Opioid medication is nothing but an addiction that takes people to the point of crushing those pills and sniffing or injecting them, causing a lethal overdose. People are twice more addicted to opioids than heroin and cocaine combined together. This result was alarming, to say the least.

This was the point in which the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) released a “black box”, which is the strongest warning they can use about addiction, abuse, and overdose of opioids.

Be aware of your risk factors:


A risk of overdose is high, especially if taken with a drug/alcohol/sleeping pills combination. The Centre for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), published another research that showed that people who are addicted to opioids, were using a short-term prescription (for example 16 weeks), while after one year they are still on treatment.

Resort to other means of treatment:


The numbers from the statistics were tragic.  100 thousand of people died of opium overdose during a period of 3 years’ time.  Often, we are referring to young people and women, which are more likely to get addicted to these substances.

However, addiction is only one of the side effects of this medications. If they are taken for a period of time any longer than 90 days, the brain adapts to the assumption of opium. That is why it will generate a need to stay on a stable dose (that will be reduced gradually until the end of the therapy). The long-term therapy effects are seriously questionable.

The patient may encounter side effects such as breathing and sleep disorders, increasing falls and fractures, nausea and constipation and hormones problems. But, how do they exactly interact with our organism to the level of addiction?

Activity of opioid medication:


Once they entered the organism, they increase the level of dopamine, called as well “feel-good” hormone. It just gives you a temporary sensation of euphoria, happiness, stress-free life, as well as decreasing the level of anxiety.

Within months the organism increases its level of tolerance toward this medication. In other words, you would ask more of it to sort of “feel-good” again, and here comes in the game of addiction.

Although the risk effects are quite scary, there are benefits in taking this medication for short-term prescriptions. In fact, it acts as a pain-killer, so it helps the patient to tolerate the pain and giving to him a state of tranquility. The most important thing is that it must be taken as prescribed, knowing that one day a healthy lifestyle will substitute the medicine.


Obviously, before taking this medication the doctor will check your medical history and is more likely to not prescribe it to people affected by obesity, sleep disorders, anxiety and fibromyalgia since all these medical conditions can compromise your health.

On the other hand, it is always good to try alternative medications and lifestyles. For instance, if there are no improvements during the therapy period, it would be the case of trying other pain-killers (maybe less aggressive as well). Following this, it may be helpful to try to keep fit and relaxed with yoga, mindfulness lessons, hobbies and so on.

Finally, it is very important to remember to not increase the dosage without any supervision and to keep this medicine always in a safe place, as it could relate to a very bad ending.

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