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The serious, addictive and fatal risks of opioid medicines have led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recommend non-opioid medicines and therapy for chronic pain that is not due to cancer, palliative or end-of-life care. Opioids should not be the first line of treatment.

The CDC recommends a patient-centered approach to treatment, with doctors actively listening to their patients’ concerns and considering each patient’s health, lifestyle and functioning. Analgesics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants and topical agents may be prescribed to help reduce pain. Interventional treatments, such as an epidural, and physical exercise and cognitive behavior therapy, provide patients with alternatives to opioids.

If you have chronic pain, speak to you doctor about the type of medicines and therapy available. Be aware of the potential benefits and risks of the medicines.

You can help prevent the misuse of prescription opioids.

  • Know your options and consider managing your pain without opioids.
  • Talk to your doctor about side effects and risk of opioids.
  • Make an informed decision with your doctor about the best treatment for you.
  • Follow up regularly with your doctor.

If you are prescribed an opioid by your doctor:

  • Take opioids as prescribed for the amount of time prescribed.
  • Don’t give your prescription opioids to anyone else.
  • Don’t take opioids with alcohol or recreational drugs.
  • Review your other prescription and over-the-counter medicines with your doctor.
  • Avoid medications like benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants or medicines to make you sleep (hypnotics) unless specifically instructed by your doctor.
  • Store prescription opioids out of reach of others, including children, family, friends and visitors.

At the end of your treatment, dispose of any unused opioids properly.

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