The Bridge to Life believes that short-term to chronic pain can be managed through the use of prescription opioids and that these medications can provide beneficial relief for those in pain. However, it is of vital importance for those prescribed opioids to be aware of the harm that can come if the medication is not taken correctly, stored securely, disposed of properly, or shared.
Medication must always be taken correctly, as prescribed by a health care professional once they have accurately calculated the dosage and considered your other medications, in order to avoid overdose. While it may seem logical to take more medication if the current dose is not providing relief, this can lead to overdose. If you find that your medication is not providing significant pain
relief, consult your health care provider before self-medicating or altering your dosage. Once prescribed an opioid, you should also familiarize yourself with any possible harmful combinations with opioids. Combining opioids with alcohol or other drugs, even other pain relievers, prescribed or over the counter, can have deadly consequences.
NYC Dept. of Health: Prevent Drug Overdose
Safe medication storage and disposal is a personal responsibility that applies to anyone who has medication in their home. If medication is not stored securely and disposed of correctly, it can fall into the hands of children, teens, those wishing to abuse the medication, pets, and can even harm the environment. Medications can even be altered by heat and humidity, which could result
in physical harm even if taken as prescribed. When having medications in your home, make sure to always keep them in cool, dry location that can be locked, such as a locking drawer, cabinet, or medicine lock box. Be sure that all medications are out of reach from children and pets, out of sight from visitors, and that you know specifically what medications are in your home and how
much medication you have left. By doing this, you can easily check to make sure that know medications have been taken from your prescription and if medication is unaccounted for, you can easily know how much is missing.
Accidental ingestion by children and pets can be avoided by taking the right precautions. If children are present in your home, we recommend to not take medication in front of them. Young children often mimic adults and may think the medication is okay for them to eat. This also goes for preteens and teenagers, as they also look to adults as role models and by seeing an adult
frequently taking medication, they may also feel it is okay to self-medicate with an adult's medication.
Avoid taking a potentially fatal amount
Tolerance decreases after a period of not using, so always be aware of the strength and duration of any substance being used. Changing medication regimens is a possibly risky time period, too. Alcohol and many other medications combined with your pain medicine can increase the risk of an overdose.
Common opioids (brand names not listed):
Signs of an overdose
Unconscious, unresponsive to stimulation
No breathing or less than 10 breaths per minute
Blue or ashen lips or fingernails
Choking or snoring-type noises from labored breathing
Responding to an overdose
1. Check for responsiveness. Call 911.
2. Give naloxone.
3. Check for pulse. If no pulse, begin CPR.
4. If pulse present, but no or shallow breathing, begin rescue breathing.
5. Place victim in recovery position:
6. Support victim until help arrives: Upon waking, the person may be agitated, sick, or disoriented.
7. Explain what happened and watch for returned symptoms of slowed breathing.