Opioids as MedicationsPage 15 of 17

13. Patient Education on Opioids

[This information is taken from FDA, 2009.]

Keep Your Doctor Informed

Inform your healthcare professional about any history of substance abuse. All patients treated with opioids for pain require careful monitoring by their healthcare professional for signs of abuse and addiction, and to determine when the analgesics are no longer needed.

Follow Directions Carefully

Opioids are associated with significant side effects, including drowsiness, constipation, and depressed breathing, depending on the amount taken. Taking too much could cause severe respiratory depression or death. Do not crush or break pills. This can alter the rate at which the medication is absorbed and lead to overdose and death.

Reduce the Risk of Drug Interactions

Do not mix opioids with alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, or benzodiazepines. All of these substances slow breathing and their combined effects could lead to life-threatening respiratory depression.