Education on Opioid Use

The decision to take prescription opioids is your choice. Prescription opioids can be used to help relieve moderate to severe pain when recovering from surgery. Medications are an important part of your treatment and you should work closely with your prescribing doctor to understand the risks and benefits of taking any medications, including opioids. Knowing your options for pain management is important. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen may be the best choice and have fewer risks and side effects.

Opioid use can have a number of side effects such as:

  • Nausea, vomiting or dry mouth
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Itching and sweating
  • Constipation
  • Addiction
  • Opioid overdose can cause slowed breathing and even be fatal

If you discuss all your pain management options and risks with your doctor and you decide taking a prescribed opioid is the best choice for your pain management:

  • Understand all the risks and side effects of opioid use (Additional resources can be found on the CDC and FDA websites and
  • You must not drink alcohol with this medication.
  • Always take the prescribed opioid as directed by your prescribing doctor and never take more than your doctor ordered, or more frequently than your prescribing doctor ordered.
  • Never use another person’s prescription opioids or share, sell or trade your own prescription opioids.
  • Do not take other medications or prescribed opioids from other doctors without informing them of any and all medications you are taking and any potential drug interactions.
  • Report any and all medications and health issues to your prescribing doctors before taking opioids and bring the pill bottle with you to any hospital or doctor’s visits.
  • Report any addiction problem to your doctor.
  • The prescribing doctor will prescribe an appropriate number of pills to manage your pain. If your medicine is lost, stolen or used up sooner than prescribed, your medication may not be replaced. If a refill is required, contact your doctor’s office during normal business hours.
  • Properly dispose of any unused prescription opioids. Extra tablets can be flushed, mixed in with composted materials in the trash, or turned in to specific locations. (More information may be found at

Your doctor may consult the state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) before prescribing you opioids.

Click below to learn about medication drop box locations and what to do with unused medications: