You Have Options for Safely Managing Your Pain

You Have Options for Safely Managing Your Pain

You Have Options for Safely Managing Your Pain

Lee esto en EspañolThere are many ways to treat pain so that you can enjoy a better quality of life. Learning your options can help keep you safe while still allowing you to do what matters to you.

Start by talking to your doctor about ways to manage your pain leaving site icon that don’t involve prescription opioids, leaving site icon 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 Abuseleaving site icon

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 safelyleaving site icon

Safer Options

Based on your particular pain type, your non-opioid pain management options may include:

  • Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Exercising and losing weight
  • Using cognitive behavioral therapy to learn how to alter the physical, behavioral and emotional triggers of pain
  • Starting exercise therapy
  • Using targeted injections

Alternatives to Medicine
You may also want to explore other types of treatments that don’t involve medicine. There are many alternative treatments leaving site icon that may help, such as:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Chiropractic care
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
Medicine Safety: You Play an Important Role

If you are considering opioids, there is a risk of misuseleaving site icon It’s vital to know your role in medicine safety:

  • Work with your doctor to make a plan to manage your pain. Having one main doctor to coordinate and manage all of your care helps.
  • Consider ways to manage your pain that do not involve opioids.
  • Talk to your doctor about all medicine side effects, potential negative interactions and other concerns.
  • Follow up with your doctor regularly.
  • Be aware of the effects that opioids have on your bodyleaving site icon

Always Follow Directions

  • Never take prescription opioids in greater amounts or more often than prescribed.
  • Don’t take opioids with alcohol and other substances or medications. It is not safe to mix opioids with other drugs. Even some over-the-counter medicines can be dangerous if taken while you’re taking opioids.
  • Do not share or sell your prescription opioids.
  • Store prescriptions in a safe place. Make sure they are out of reach of others, such as children and guests.
  • Get rid of unused medicines the right way. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers detailed information on how to safely dispose of medicineleaving site icon
Sources: Safely and Effectively Managing Pain Without Opioids, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021; Nonopioid Therapies, leaving site icon CDC, 2022; Opioid Basics, leaving site icon CDC, 2022; Prevent Opioid Misuse, leaving site icon CDC, 2020; Managing Your Pain: Which Approach Is Right for You?, Adobe pdf icon Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Safe Disposal of Medicines, leaving site icon Food and Drug Administration, 2021; Prescription Opioids and Heroin, Adobe pdf icon University of Missouri-Kansas City; Lifesaving Naloxone, CDC, 2023 leaving site icon

Originally published 3/1/2022; Revised 2023