Opioids and other narcotic medications play a vital role in pain management after surgery. However, long-term use of these medications can be harmful to your health. Patients who take opioids prior to surgery may experience more pain and may not respond well to post-op pain management.
Recognizing Opioid Dependency
Opioids are highly addictive and may cause dangerous health problems when overused. Even within prescribed guidelines, patients can develop physical dependence on opioids. It is very important to discontinue use of opioids as soon as your pain allows. Keep aware of warning signs and refer to your physician for assistance with alternatives for pain management.
Beware of these warning signs:
- Several opioid prescriptions
- Early refills on opioid prescriptions
- Opioid prescriptions from multiple pharmacies or physicians
Preventing Opioid Addiction
Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush is committed to protecting our patients from opioid addiction. We only prescribe opioids when necessary. Whenever possible, we use less-addictive pain medication and alternative pain management options. Both high-dosage opioids and low-dosage opioids taken over long periods of time can increase the risk of addiction. We attempt to limit our prescriptions of opioids after surgery as much as possible, which may include lower dosages of opioid medications or fewer pills.
Opioid adverse reactions include:
- Decrease movement and thinking
- Immune suppression
- Hormonal imbalance
- Difficulty breathing
- Drug interactions
How Can You Help
We all play a part in fighting the opioid crisis. Patients can make a difference by simply disposing of their unused drugs responsibly. Some medical facilities, such as a Rush University Medical Center, have placed secure opioid disposal boxes in their facilities. Many states offer safe and anonymous options for disposing of your medications.