Preventing opioid misuse

Opioid misuse is a growing problem. But it can be avoided. Understanding how it happens is a good start. Here are a few other important steps for preventing opioid misuse.

  1. Be honest with your doctor. Your doctor should know about any alcohol or medications you are consuming. He or she should also know when you started to use them, and how much you take.
  2. Learn about other options. Ask your doctor about other options for pain management.
  3. Don’t share your medications with anyone. And don’t use someone else’s. Sharing drugs can be dangerous. Something in another person’s drug, or their dosage, might cause a reaction. And, you don’t know if someone else might have a negative reaction to your medications.
  4. Stop taking your opioids if you don’t need them. You don’t need to “finish off” your opioid prescription the way you do with medications like antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about how long to take prescription opioids or any other medication.
  5. Turn in your old drugs. Once you’ve stopped taking a prescription opioid, remove it from your home. But, don’t just throw it away. View this map to find a Walgreens location with a drug disposal kiosk near you. This step will help keep family members (including children), pets, and visitors from swallowing or taking unused and potentially dangerous drugs.

Treating opioid misuse

If you’re concerned about opioid addiction, help is available. Treatment can save your life or the life of someone you know.

Treating the whole person—including physical and mental health—leads to higher success and can be the best way to help the life of someone through an addiction. Other medications are available that can help a person give up the opioid and cope with any withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Mental health counseling can help a person better understand his or her addiction. In addition, a person can gain new skills for productively dealing with setbacks, stress, or grief. Plus, counseling can help a person find the drive to commit to better health over the long term.

It will take all of us working together to heal and protect ourselves and our families.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask your doctor or someone else you trust for help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a national helpline available to everyone at 1-800-662-4357 and an online treatment finder.

If you are not comfortable going to a doctor’s office, or you live in a rural area where there aren’t as many doctors, consider a telehealth service. BlueCare Anywhere is one available with most BCBSAZ plans. There are also companies that offer this service for a fee. Search ‘telehealth’ online for a list of companies.

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