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Start by talking to your doctor about ways to manage your pain that don’t involve prescription opioids, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some of the other methods may even work better than opioids. And they won’t have the risks and side effects that come with these strong prescription medicines.
Examples of prescription opioids include hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl. Fentanyl and other man-made opioids are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It works on parts of the brain that control pain and emotions. It can produce feelings of happiness, but also confusion, dangerous breathing problems and blackouts. Fentanyl’s high strength significantly raises the chances of overdose because people can easily underestimate the dose they’re taking.
The illegal forms of fentanyl are sold as a powder, dropped on paper like a small candy or made into pills that look like real prescription opioids. It is also mixed with other drugs, which makes it especially unsafe because people don’t know that fentanyl has been added.
If you think someone has overdosed, call 911 so they can get urgent medical attention. Medical workers may be able to give naloxone to reverse a fentanyl overdose. If you or a family member are currently taking opioids, you may want to talk to your health care provider about keeping naloxone in your home and learning how to use it safely.
Based on your particular pain type, your non-opioid pain management options may include:
Alternatives to MedicineYou may also want to explore other types of treatments that don’t involve medicine. There are many alternative treatments that may help, such as:
If you are considering opioids, there is a risk of misuse. It’s vital to know your role in medicine safety:
Always Follow Directions
Originally published 3/1/2022; Revised 2023
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