Preventing Opioid Misuse

What to know

  • Prescription opioids come with serious risk of side effects and can lead to misuse, opioid use disorder, or overdose.
  • If you are prescribed opioids for your pain, it is important that you work with your doctor to create a pain management plan and always take opioids as prescribed.

What you can do to prevent opioid misuse

If you are prescribed opioids for your pain, there are a number of ways to reduce the risks of prescription opioid misuse and help ensure you are getting the safest, most effective pain management possible.

Work with your doctor

  • Work with your doctor to create a plan on how to manage your pain.
    • Know your options and consider ways to manage your pain that do not include opioids.
    • Talk to your doctor about any and all side effects and concerns.
    • Discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of changing opioid dosage.
    • Make the most informed decision with your doctor.
  • Follow up regularly with your doctor.
    • Be sure to be involved in the decision-making process about whether to continue opioid therapy.
    • Always let your doctor know about any side effects that you experience or concerns you may have about using opioids.

Take and store opioids properly

  • Never take prescription opioids in greater amounts or more often than prescribed.
  • Avoid taking opioids with alcohol and other substances or medications. It is very dangerous to combine opioids with other drugs, especially those that cause drowsiness:
    • Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax® and Valium®)
    • Muscle relaxants (such as Soma® or Flexeril®)
    • Hypnotics (such as Ambien® or Lunesta®)
    • Other prescription opioids
  • Do not share or sell your prescription opioids.
  • Store prescription opioids in a secure place, out of reach of others (including children, family, friends, and visitors).
  • If you have unused prescription opioids at the end of your treatment dispose of them. Find your community drug take-back program or your pharmacy mail-back program, or flush them down the toilet, following guidance from the Food and Drug Administration.
I was given a prescription opioid pain medication that lasted a lot longer than the pain itself. -Mike
If prescribed opioids, it is important to always let your doctor know about side effects or other concerns.

Learn about Mike's journey from injury to recovery.

Find Help and Treatment‎

If you or someone close to you needs help for a substance use disorder, talk to your doctor or call SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP or go to SAMSHA's Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.