Questions to Ask Your doctor when You're Prescribed Opioids

Opioid addiction is one of the leading public health issues in the United States, and it often starts at the doctor's office. Here are some important questions to ask your doctor when given painkillers.

Avoiding Opioid Misuse and Addiction

Let’s start with two realities: more than 142 million opioid prescriptions are written in the United States each year, amounting to approximately 43 scripts for every 100 Americans, and over 10 million Americans misuse these medications annually.

Opioids are highly addictive, and once dependency takes hold, it can be very hard to move past withdrawal symptoms and function properly without them. The journey from legitimate opioid use to abuse can take many routes and easily lead to addiction and overdose.

While many develop opioid addiction from illegal recreational use, between eight and 12 percent of people using an opioid for chronic pain develop an opioid use disorder. It’s important to ask the right questions to keep you or your loved one safe.

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Why Am I Taking This Medication?

Make your doctor give you a clear reason why they’re giving you these opioids. You deserve an explanation and a complete picture of your healthcare plan. Make sure you tell them about any health factors that would make it unsafe for you to take them, such as family history, past history of substance use, and others. Have them break down the science behind the drug’s efficacy and tell you as much as possible about the risks. Don’t be afraid to bring up the possibility of addiction and how it’s a concern for you.

What Are The Side Effects?

Many of the side effects of opioids are well documented, but they will affect every patient’s physiology in their own way. Ask your doctor about the possible side effects, what to expect, and what to do if they become too much to handle. Your tolerance and risk for dependency may differ from another person’s, and it’s important to know your threshold to avoid dependency.

Make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you’re taking to determine if there’s a risk of adverse interactions. Opioids can have harmful interactions with multiple types of drugs, including anti-seizure meds, certain antibiotics, benzos, steroids, and more.

How Long Do I Have to Take These Pills?

Opioids are not meant to be taken for months or years at a time. Ask your prescribing physician where the off-ramp is, so you’re not taking them more or longer than you have to. Have your doctor give you a concrete and easily understood plan for tapering off, so you don’t run a heightened risk of tolerance and dependence. You should also ask them if there are ways to reduce or lower the amount of time you take these drugs or the dosage. Don’t be afraid to push back if you think your dose is too high.

Is There Another Way to Manage my pain?

This is an important yet lesser-asked question for people prescribed opioids for different types of pain to raise. Ask your doctor if there are alternative medications or means of pain management that don’t require potentially addictive narcotic painkillers. Opioids are often the first choice for pain management, and the reality is that many doctors don’t explore any other options because of established clinical protocol. As a result, many receive hasty diagnoses and prescriptions and end up abusing these pills because they weren’t ready for their potency level.

what Happens IF I can't Stop?

Call your doctor immediately if you find yourself with persistent and intense cravings or withdrawal symptoms or if you’re taking more of these drugs in a given period than you’re prescribed. If your legitimate pain medication regimen has led to full-blown opioid addiction, as it has for many,

Recovery Unplugged is ready to provide safe, effective opioid addiction treatment. We offer all levels of care, including safe medical detox and all levels of behavioral rehab.

Doctors are not perfect. They make mistakes, and there is a long history of incidence to suggest that even legitimate opioid use can lead to addiction. These drugs are incredibly powerful, and it’s important that you have all the tools and knowledge at your disposal to protect yourself from the possibility of opioid addiction.