Guidelines for Using Opioids
The goal behind opioid usage is very simple: to use them for as short a period as possible. If you’re living with persistent, non-cancer pain, opioids are not right for you.
Do and don’t
Specific indications on when and how to take pain pills differ from patient to patient, region to region, even doctor to doctor. Acceptable dosage may also vary from one type of opioid to another.
That said, if you can say “yes” to any of the following, you may be in danger:
- Taking more than 50 MED (Morphine Equivalent Dosage) per day
- Taking methadone, which is more dangerous than other pain relievers
- Still taking opioids after 30 days have passed
- Taking opioids with tranquilizers, alcohol, marijuana, or sleep aids
- Taking opioids that have been prescribed to you by multiple physicians
- Taking more than the amount you were prescribed
- Taking opioids that you got from multiple pharmacies
How dosage is measured
Your dosage should be determined by your doctor on a case-by-case basis. Since the safe dose is measured in milligrams of Morphine, some translation is required from between different types of opioids.
Generally, however, doctors and health care facilities in Benton, Lincoln, and Linn counties are recommended to prescribe no more than 50 MED (Morphine Equivalent Dosage) per dose.
What opioids are for
Opioids are not a long-term answer. They do not work for persistent pain because:
- The longer you use them, the less relief they give
- As your tolerance goes up, the more opioids you need to get any relief, which puts you at risk of overdose
- Over time, opioids make you more sensitive to outside stimuli, so instead of helping you feel better, they actually increase your pain
- If you use opioids for 90 days or longer, you’re likely to become dependent or addicted, according to a study at PubMed
So, what are opioids for?
Opioids can provide effective relief for short-term pain and for some types of cancer pain. If your doctor prescribes opioid medication to you, please find out why. If you’re not convinced that opioids are right for you, seek a second opinion. If you do take opioids, be sure to follow your doctor’s indications carefully.