Chronic pain opioid

How to Use Opioids For Chronic Pain?

Living with a chronic pain can be challenging. Prescription opioids can help you to relieve pain for a short period. However, these medications can raise serious risks and potential complications and must be used carefully.

What are opioids?

Basically, opioids are a narcotic pain medication that reduces feeling of pain. Few prescribed opioid pain relievers are Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Oxycodone (OxyContin), Oxymorphone (Opana), Methadone, Fentanyl, etc.

Are opioids safe?

Consuming opioids is justified when someone is suffering from severe pain, usually following serious injury or surgery, etc. But opioids have a dark side too! Long-term usage of opioids can result in drug dependency.

“Opioids are the most abused drugs in the US. They’re quite easy to get hold of, frequently prescribed, and are very addictive.”

Before taking any prescribed painkiller for your chronic pain:

  • Discuss an alternative method for relieving pain, including ones that do not involve prescription drugs.
  • Tell your doctor about past or current drug and alcohol use.
  • Discuss all the risks and benefits of taking prescription opioids.
  • If you are uninsured buy your medications using a prescription discount card as it will help your pharmacist to keep a track of the medicines you take and will also help you save money on your prescription medication.

Side-effects of opioids

Opioids can cause unpleasant and even dangerous side effects if you take them too often.  The various short-term and long-term side effects of prescribed opioids are:


  • Slowed breathing
  • Constipation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea
  • Coma
  • Depression
  • Sleepiness and dizziness, and more.


  • Continuous use of opioids can lead to physical dependency. The body gets addicted to the pain reliever and if you try to stop taking it, you can experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • Long-term usage of opioids can also increase tolerance to the drug. This means you may need to take higher dosage of the same pain reliever.
  • Various withdrawal symptoms include muscle and bone pain, restlessness, diarrhea, insomnia vomiting, and cold flashes with goose bumps.

How to use opioids for Chronic Pain?

CDC has announced new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain.  The guidelines are not for the patients who have cancer, or are under palliative care, end-of-life care. Your doctor should test you regularly, if opioids are a part of your treatment. Make sure to follow your doctor recommendations to avoid side-effects of opioids.

  • Take opioids as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t take them in greater amount or more often than prescribed.
  • Avoid these other substances and drugs while taking this medication:
  • Alcohol
  • Muscle relaxants (such as Flexeril or Soma), unless recommended by your doctor
  • Benzodiazepines (such as Valium and Xanax), unless recommended by your doctor
  • Hypnotics (such as Lunesta or Ambien), unless recommendedby your doctor
  • Other prescription opioid pain relievers
  • Follow up with your doctor regularly.
  • Consult with your doctor in case of any side-effects.
  • Store pain relievers at a safe place and out of reach of children.
  • It will prevent misuse and abuse of opioid pain relievers. Make sure not to use another person’s prescription opioids or share your prescription opioids with anyone.
  • Look for a drug take-back program to dispose of unused prescription drugs safely.

Alternative for Opioids

Talk to your doctor about the different ways that can help you to overcome your chronic pain. Some of these options may actually work better and have fewer side effects.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medications for depression or for seizures
  • Interventional therapies (injections)
  • Medications for depression or for seizures
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®)
  • Physical therapy and exercise

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