Once you and your doctor decide that opioids are the best method to manage your pain, developing a plan for taking those pills can help you navigate the tricky balance of limiting your pain without developing an addiction. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Opioids won’t keep you completely pain-free

Our bodies are all very different, and the way one person reacts to drugs is very different from the next. Recognize that taking prescription painkillers, no matter how powerful, may not eliminate your pain, but only reduce it. Knowing this can help you from taking too many opioids at once, reducing the risk of addiction and overdose.

2. Include treatments other than prescription painkillers

Because opioids alone won’t fully treat your pain, your pain management plan should include such remedies as massage, weight loss, acupuncture, physical therapy, exercise, stretching, and relaxation training the Veterans Affairs National Pain Management Program recommends. Although no single remedy will cure your pain, combining multiple methods can help you find the best mix to maximize your quality of life.

3. Inform your doctor about other medications

You may be seeing multiple doctors, even taking prescriptions written by different doctors. Updating each doctor about all the medications you take is critical for ensuring appropriate dosages and preventing unsafe drug interactions. Sometimes, two separate drugs should not be taken together because of the way they interact in the body. Doctors working in different practices may not communicate with one another. As a result, each medical professional you see may only have the ability to review the records he or she keeps. That’s why updating your doctors and telling them about all the medications you take is so important for creating a safe and effective painkiller management plan.

4. Stick to the your doctor-recommended dosage

Taking more medicine than prescribed can lead to serious health impacts, or even overdose. If your existing dose does not alleviate your suffering, call your doctor to discuss your symptoms and possible treatments. Making sure to stay in close contact with your health care provider and consulting them before making any changes can help you keep safe and your pain managed.

How do you manage your painkiller use?

Image by Vic via Flickr 

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