Opioids, pain, and you

Photo Credit: SU Health Center

The national opioid crisis has touched so many families, with over 64,000 deaths in the United States each year, and 885 in Colorado and New Mexico. Opioids include pain medications like morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, tramadol and fentanyl, as well as heroin. They are associated with risk of death by overdose, as well drug abuse, addiction, withdrawal syndrome in newborns, as well as transmission of hepatitis C infection and HIV/AIDS. It is thought that prescription pain medications are at the heart of this problem.

In order to address the opioid crisis, the medical community across the country, and at the Southern Ute Health Center, have been working to use opioids in a responsible way.

Opioids may be the best choice for some types of pain, like after surgery, and during cancer treatment. The decision to use these medications should be made carefully, and for the shortest time necessary.

Research in chronic pain shows that use of opioid pain medication does NOT work better than non-opioid pain medications such as: ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, and others, to treat pain and improve function. If you or a family member is struggling with chronic or long-lasting pain, here are some things to consider.

  • Other approaches like exercise, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, massage, and acupuncture, may be helpful for many conditions.
  • Expect your doctor to try other non-opioid medications to treat pain.
  • Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your pain management goals. Realize that complete elimination of pain is not always achievable.
  • Understand that opioid pain medication has risk, and this has to be considered before deciding to use opioid pain medications.
  • Always take medication how they are prescribed, never taking more than what is written on the label.
  • Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about stopping opioids, since this needs to be done carefully, and with medical guidance.

For more information, talk to your healthcare provider, or check out these websites:

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