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Opioids are medicines used to relieve moderate to severe pain. They may be used for a short time for pain, such as after surgery. Or in some cases a doctor might prescribe them for long-term pain. They don't cure a health problem. But they may help you manage the pain and function better.
Sometimes opioids are used for people who can't take other pain medicines. For example, you may take an opioid instead of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID—like ibuprofen) if you have poor kidney function or are at risk of bleeding.
Opioids are strong medicines. They can help you manage pain when you use them the right way. But they can cause serious harm and even death.
If you decide to take opioids, here are some things to remember.
Opioids or other medicines that contain them include:
If you need to take opioids to manage your pain, remember these safety tips.
Your risk rises if you misuse opioids, take high doses, have certain health problems, or if you've overdosed before. You're also at higher risk if you use them with another substance, like alcohol, or take illegal opioids, or if you used them regularly and then take them again after you'd cut back or stopped.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
If you have a take-home naloxone kit, use it after you call 911.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Adaptation Date: 8/2/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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