Prescription opioids (like hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine) are generally prescribed for acute pain, injuries, surgeries and medical procedures. While these medications can reduce pain during short-term use, they come with serious risks including addiction and death from overdose.

If you are scheduled for surgery, your doctor will likely discuss your post-operative medications with you. If you are prescribed a narcotic, the prescription must be filled within 24 hours of when it is written for you.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR

If you are prescribed opioids, ask your health care provider these questions to fully understand the benefits and risks and to ensure that you’re getting care that is safe, effective, and right for you:

Even when opioids are taken exactly as directed, you may experience common side effects. Discuss these and other side effects with your doctor so you know what you may expect:
· Constipation
· Nausea and vomiting
· Dry mouth
· Sleepiness
· Confusion
· Depression
· Itching
· Dizziness

· Never take opioids in higher amounts or more often than prescribed.
· When you start taking opioids, you should not operate a vehicle.
· To prevent constipation with opioid use, drink more fluids and eat more fiber than usual, and maintain or increase physical activity. Stool softeners or laxatives are available over-the-counter.

It is very dangerous to combine opioids with other drugs, especially those that cause drowsiness. Tell your doctor about any other medicines you currently take.

Risks increase when your medication is combined with:
· Alcohol and/or other sedatives
· Benzodiazepines (also known as “benzos” and include diazepam and alprazolam)
· Other opioids (prescription or illicit, including heroin)

Opioids should only be used when necessary and only for as long as necessary. For acute pain, including after surgery or a medical procedure, opioids should be taken for 3 to 7 days.

Follow up with your doctor within the first few days of your prescription to ensure opioids are helping and to discuss what you can expect overall for pain relief and improvement.

If you experience withdrawal symptoms after stopping your prescription, your doctor can give you guidance on how to cope, or call Hawaii CARES to be connected to a substance use provider in your area.

Safe storage and disposal of unused medications can help prevent opioid misuse and overdose.
· Store prescription opioids in a secure place, out of reach of children, family, friends, and visitors.
· Never sell or share prescription opioids.
· Properly dispose of unused prescription opioids.

· Vomiting
· Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
· Slow, shallow breathing
· Choking or gurgling sounds
· Limp body
·Pale, blue, or cold skin

Naloxone is a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, if administered in time.

Stay informed and learn more opioid facts. If you are already taking prescription opioids, answer a few questions to find out if you could be at risk for opioid dependency.