The steps you take before filling your opioid prescription can save a life.

Sadly, many addictions start at home.

Twenty-five percent of those prescribed opioid medication will abuse them, including taking too many or taking them too long.

Leftover and unused pills can be a temptation to friends or family members or could be passed on to strangers.  Simple precautions at the beginning of your opioid treatment can prevent bad decisions later on.

When you first discuss pain management with your physician, don’t assume that an opioid is a right choice for you. Sometimes acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen can even work better, with fewer side effects.

No two people have the same pain threshold; your sister could be in agony after disc surgery, while you could pop an aspirin and feel fine.  Physical therapy or even behavioral therapy, which teaches you cognitive techniques to modify pain triggers, can also play a part of your pain management.  Ask before accepting the prescription.

If you decide that opioids are the right choice for you, ask to be prescribed only what you will need, don’t assume a refill will be necessary.  If your pain persists, follow up with your doctor to discuss your options.

Never take home more than you need and make sure you store them in a secure place, out of the reach of others.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 54% of young people using opioids report getting them from a friend or family.

And what do you do with leftovers?  Don’t keep them for ‘the next time’ you’re hurt or in pain, and never share them with others.  Ask your pharmacist about take-back programs or community collection sites.  If you can’t locate one, flush them down the toilet using the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines.

The responsible use of any medication is a great lesson to teach your children.

If you’d like more information on how to use opioids safely, The Center for Disease Control has valuable guides to help you before and after that prescription is written.


Lora Lewis is a content creator with Beasley Media Group and is based out of Philadelphia.