The Food and Drug Administration has issued a guide for patients to help them understand pain medicines and use them safely.
The guide includes information about over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription pain medicine. It includes some of the problems that can occur when acetaminophen, NSAIDS, or opiates are not used as directed. Knowing the active ingredients in a pain reliever is important so that patients won’t use several different medicines with the same ingredient at the same time.
In addition, patients who are using opiates prescribed for pain need to take care that they don’t get misused or abused by other people. They need to be stored carefully and protected against being stolen.
From A Guide to the Safe Use of Pain Medicine:
USE OPIOIDS SAFELY: 3 KEY STEPS
- Keep your doctor informed. Inform your health care professional about any past history of substance abuse. All patients treated with opioids for pain require careful monitoring by their health care professional for signs of abuse and addiction, and to determine when these analgesics are no longer needed.
- Follow directions carefully. Opioids are associated with significant side effects, including drowsiness, constipation, and depressed breathing depending on the amount taken. Taking too much could cause severe respiratory depression or death. Do not crush or break pills. This can alter the rate at which the medication is absorbed and lead to overdose and death.
- Reduce the risk of drug interactions. Don’t mix opioids with alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, or benzodiazepines. All of these substances slow breathing and their combined effects could lead to life-threatening respiratory depression.