How to Use Opioids Safely

typing on laptop

Opioid medications have the potential for great good. Prescription painkillers like oxycodone and morphine help patients manage post-surgical pain or chronic pain that’s gotten out of control. Other opioids such as methadone can be used to address the withdrawal symptoms and cravings caused by opioid addiction.

Sadly, opioid medications can be highly addictive. If you are taking prescription opioids, whether to manage pain or as part of an opioid treatment program, it’s essential that you work closely with a medical professional and practice caution.

Are Opioids Safe?

Opioid pain relievers are generally considered a safe form of treatment. When taken as prescribed for a short amount of time, opioids can effectively address persistent or severe pain. These pain relievers are sometimes prescribed for:

  • Chronic backaches or headaches.
  • Surgery recovery.
  • Severe pain associated with cancer or terminal illness.
  • Sports injuries, accidents or physical trauma.

There are also opioids that are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and approved to treat opioid addiction. Methadone is a synthetic opioid medication primarily used to control cravings and address the physical withdrawal symptoms felt when opioids are no longer present in a person’s system.

What Makes Opioids Dangerous?

Many opioids produce a euphoric effect in addition to their pain-relieving qualities. As a result, some people take painkillers like morphine or codeine to get high. However, that isn’t the only way to misuse opioid prescriptions. Other methods of opioid misuse include:

  • Taking larger quantities than prescribed.
  • Taking pills in a different way, such as grinding them and snorting the powder.
  • Taking opioid medication without a doctor’s prescription.
  • Obtaining prescription painkillers from a family member or friend.

Sadly, regular use can lead to dependence, even when you only take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. Once you become physically and mentally dependent on opioids, your risk of addiction, overdose incidents and accidental death increase.

Best Practices for Opioid Treatments

When it comes to opioid safety, diligence and transparency play a critical role in ensuring patients do not begin misusing these medications. While your doctor and pharmacist will strive to help you stay safe, here are some best practice suggestions for opioid treatments:

  • Request the lowest effective dose for the shortest period needed.
  • Be upfront about all drugs you are currently taking.
  • Follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s directions to the letter.
  • Read the instructions and warnings on the drug safety information sheet.
  • Schedule regular checkups while you’re taking opioids.
  • Report any side effects to your doctor right away.
  • Look out for signs of opioid misuse, such as taking more than prescribed, experiencing mood changes or borrowing medication from other people.

Find Help for Opioid Addiction

There is a shameful stigma surrounding addiction. As a result, many people try to hide the fact that they’ve developed opioid dependence or addiction. If you’re struggling, know that compassionate help in a judgment-free environment of care is available.

At BAART Programs, we provide effective medication-assisted treatment combined with counseling to help you break free from opioid addiction. Trying to quit on your own can lead to devastating cravings and debilitating withdrawal symptoms. Turn to the professionals at BAART for a personalized addiction treatment program tailored to your needs. Contact us today to learn more.


Medically Reviewed By:

BAART Clinical Team

BAART Clinical Team

The Clinical Team at BAART Programs is our team of physicians and medical directors within the organization. BAART is a CARF accredited organization and has been providing opioid addiction treatment services to the San Francisco Bay Area and greater United States since 1977.