Pain Management and Opioids
Long-term pain can have lasting effects on physical and mental health. There are strategies to help manage pain.
- Talk to your doctor. There may be a reason for your pain.
- Relax. Pain increases during times of stress.
- Exercise. Unused muscles feel more pain than flexible muscles.
- Get support. Connect with family and friends. Behavioral Health support may be helpful.
- Call Nebraska Total Care. Our Care Management team can get you the help you need.
The American Chronic Pain Association has tools to help you talk to your doctor, be involved in your care, and manage your pain.
What are other ways to treat pain?
Research has shown that things like yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, acupuncture, and massage have been useful in treating pain. These can help conditions like fibromyalgia, back/neck pain, rheumatoid arthritis and headaches.
DID YOU KNOW?
4 out of 5 Heroin users shared they began by misusing their prescription drugs. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with opioid addiction driving this epidemic.
What is an opioid?
Opioids are narcotics commonly known as “painkillers.” Also included are drugs like codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.
Why are opioids used?
Opioid meds can be a useful short-term tool to control pain. When used properly they can help with pain after surgery and pain from serious illness like advanced stage cancer. However, they also have serious risks. Opioids are one of the country’s biggest addictions. It is important that opioid use be managed carefully with a doctor’s supervision.
If I am prescribed an opioid, how long should I take it?
Nebraska law limits all short-acting opioid prescriptions. Also, anyone under the age of 18 can only have a maximum of a 7-day supply. Research has found that following surgery, patients often do not need an opioid med for longer than seven days. You should always take these painkillers for the shortest amount of time possible. Use these only when other pain management methods do not work.
What are some side effects of using opioids?
Short term or long term opioid use can cause drowsiness, confusion, constipation and upset stomach. This happens more the longer you take opioids, or the higher the dose. Long-term use can lead to dependence.
What meds should I avoid taking if I am prescribed opioids?
Avoid combining opioids with other drugs like Benzodiazepines, also known as “Benzos”. Drugs like Ativan can have dangerous outcomes. These drugs should never be combined.
How can I prevent addiction to opioids?
Before using an opioid to manage your pain, be sure you and your doctor have tried all other methods of pain management first. Be open to using alternative methods to treat your pain. If you need opioids, it is best to limit your use of opioids to no more than seven days. Using these drugs for more than 30 days can lead to addiction and dependence. You should use the low and slow rule. This means you start with the lowest dose and use as infrequently as possible. Taking these steps will prevent addiction to opioid meds.
Prescription drug misuse is taking meds in a manner other than prescribed or for a different condition than for which the meds were prescribed.
If you think you may be misusing opioids there is help available. Call Nebraska Total Care at 1-844-385-2192 (TTY 711). If you are in crisis, press * for immediate help from a licensed professional.
- Krames Health Library has health and medical information on many topics
- myStrength offers support for emotional health
- Forming an Opioid Treatment Plan - How to form a treatment plan when prescribed opioids for your pain
- Taking Opioid Medicines - How to use, store and dispose of opioids safely
- Understanding Opioid Medicines for Pain Management - Learn how opioids work to treat your pain
- Understanding the Risks and Side Effects of Opioid Medicines - Understand the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and what to do if it occurs
- Preventing Drug Misuse and Abuse (PDF)
- Prevent Opioid Overdose
- Common Signs of Drug Abuse (PDF)