Reasons to Use Opioids

While they are effective for managing pain, they do not heal physical injuries and are highly addictive.

What Opioids Are For:

Prescription opioids are intended to provide short-term pain relief after surgery or serious injury. They are prescribed to block the body’s pain receptors—meaning even though the physical reason for feeling pain is there, you don’t
actually feel it.

The CDC states a prescription for three days or less is usually enough to manage the pain and any more than a week can be counterproductive.

What Opioids Are NOT For:

Opioids are not designed for long-term pain management*, emotional or mental pain, or healing physical injuries. Taking them for any other reason than prescribed, such as stress, sleep, depression, or pleasure is extremely dangerous.
*Always follow your doctor’s prescribed pain management plan.

Tips For Safe Use

Your body builds a tolerance for the physical and psychological effects of opioids, causing your body to crave more to continue the same benefits of pain relief. If prescriptions are not monitored closely, this can spiral into taking more than you need and, before long, an opioid use disorder. Follow these simple and important management tips to protect you and your loved ones.

Limit Your Use

Unlike antibiotics where taking the entire course of medication is necessary, you should stop taking opioids as soon as your pain starts to subside. According to the CDC, opioids can chemically alter your brain in as little as five days and put you at risk for overdose and an opioid use disorder.

Seek Alternative Pain Therapy

Opioids reduce the feeling of pain, but they do not heal physical injuries. Typically, additional measures such as stretching, strength training, rest, or other rehabilitative therapies help the recovery process. Talk to your doctor about non-addictive alternatives.

Don’t Share Your Pills

Prescriptions are given for specific purposes based on the unique needs of each individual, and a recommended dose for one person could be harmful to another. Use your prescription for your medical needs only.

Safely Store Pills

Leaving pills on counters or in easily accessible medicine cabinets can lead others to take your pills without your knowledge. Store your pills in a safe place, out of the reach of children, or in a locked cabinet to prevent accidentally providing access to friends or family.

Safely Dispose of Leftover Pills

If you have leftover pills, do not hang onto them for future use. If your pain returns, that’s because your body has not fully healed and you likely need additional measures to fully recover. Promptly get rid of leftover pills by taking them to your pharmacy, safe drug disposal site, or by following these approved tips.

Do Not Mix with Alcohol

Prescription opioids and alcohol are both types of depressants, which are drugs that slow your heartbeat and breathing. Combining the two can slow the flow of oxygen to the brain which can shutdown your organs, cause you to lose consciousness, and put you at risk for an overdose.

NEXT:Risks of Opioids

All opioids and recreational drugs carry risks, especially if they are laced with fentanyl. Learn how opioids can lead to misuse, opioid use disorder, or overdose, and how you can prevent them from happening to you.


Get the Help You Need

If you are concerned about your use or someone else’s use of opioids, or suspect misuse or unusual behavior, get help immediately. Contact the Illinois Helpline here or visit our Resources page for more information.