Opiate Precautions

People who take prescription medications such as opiates have a responsibility to take precautions and know the risks involved. Doctors may cover some of the information when the medication is prescribed, but patients should always read up on the drug.

Medications can cause certain side effects, and many have risks involved. Patients should always read the informational leaflet that accompanies the medication. Additional information is available through the drug's manufacturer and this can usually be found on the Internet.

Opiate Risks Include Habitual Use And Abuse

Opiates are powerful narcotic drugs that are assigned to a schedule under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Drugs such as codeine, morphine and OxyContin are classified based on their medical use and potential for abuse. Many opiates are considered to have a high abuse potential.

The most important thing to know about taking opiates is that they should always be taken as directed. Deviating from this by taking more than prescribed is dangerous. If the medication stops working or doesn't adequately manage symptoms, speak to a doctor who can adjust the dosage or switch medications.

Recreational use or abuse of opiates is dangerous. These medications are often used to treat pain but they have become prevalent on the black market. Some people seek the euphoric "high" these drugs can create, putting themselves at risk for opiate overdose.

Important Things To Know Before Beginning Therapy With Opiates:

  • These drugs can be habit forming if taken for a long period of time or misused.
  • A tolerance can develop and people may notice their prescribed dosage is no longer effective.
  • Physical dependence can develop among people who take opiates regularly. This can result in withdrawal if people try to stop taking the medication.
  • Psychological dependence, characterized by compulsive use, is a sign that opiate addiction has developed.
  • An allergic reaction to opiates is possible and can be serious. Emergency medical help should be sought right away. Do not take opiates if you have had a prior allergic reaction to another opiate.
  • People with certain conditions should not take opiates. Check with your doctor and be sure to disclose all current and past medical issues.
  • Opiates depress the central nervous system and should not be used with other substances that have this effect (alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, other opiates).
  • If you develop an increase in pain during opiate therapy, there is a chance that hyperalgesia may be to blame. This is a little understood condition that causes an increased sensitivity to pain.

Opiate dependence and addiction are serious and may need to be treated by professional opiate detox.