Opioids are an effective form of pain relief. However, they can be very addictive, can sometimes produce unwanted side effects and can be lethal if you overdose. This is why you have to be extremely careful with such medication. Below are a few tips for taking care with opioid medication.
Watch your dosage
If a doctor has prescribed you opioids (such as oxycodone or morphine), make sure to stick to the strict dosage limit. Your doctor will likely tell you exactly how much to take and how often. Do not take any over-the-counter medication that contains opioids such as codeine if you are also using prescription opioids.
When it comes to just taking over-the-counter medication containing opioids, always read the instructions and do not exceed the recommended dose. It’s best to try and limit your dose as much as possible in order to avoid addiction – regularly taking opioid medication and then trying to stop could lead to withdrawal symptoms (which could include anxiety, sweating, nausea, diarrhea and fever-like symptoms).
If you’ve been on opioid medication for a while, a doctor will usually recommend slowly weaning you off to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms. You can find advice and support for opioid addiction from prescription drugs online.
Explore other forms of pain relief
Where possible, it’s better to try other forms of pain relief that are less addictive and less dangerous. There are many OTC drugs that you can try such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Just be careful not to mix certain drugs (it’s worth talking to a doctor if you’re on existing medication such as antidepressants or warfarin.
There may also be options to consider such as medical marijuana. While considered a drug, it’s much less addictive and can present less dangers. Due to the high it produces, you will need to apply for a medical card first. You can find more information on these online.
Other forms of herbal pain relief could also be worth looking into. Everything from ginger to cloves can be used as pain relief. There are also more specialist herbal medicines worth looking into such as devil’s claw and willow bark, which you may not get in your average grocery store.
Check the expiration date
When using any pain relief medication, you should always check the expiration date. Medication can lose its effectiveness after it has expired. There may also be a greater risk of unpredictable side effects, some of which could be a real danger to your health. All in all, never use medication that has expired.
Look out for side effects
Opioid medication can present side effects for some people. A few common side effects that can be concerning include constipation, nausea and extreme fatigue. In some cases, different brands of medication may affect certain people differently.
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing side effects that are disrupting your life. It may be recommended that you switch to a different kind of medication or that you take other medication to manage side effects.