What To Ask Your Doctor About Opioids

What To Ask Your Doctor About Opioids

Pharmaceutical commercials tell you to “ask your doctor” if the drug they’re advertising is “right for you.” But when it comes to opioids, it’s important to ask instead why they may be wrong for you.

Because it’s easy for anyone to become dependent on opioids – far faster than you might think – it’s crucial that you and your doctor talk about the pros and cons of the specific drug you are considering. A thorough discussion should take into account potential side effects, risks, your personal history, alternative pain management options available, ways to avoid addiction and more.

Talking openly with your health care provider will help to make sure you are getting care that is effective and right for you.

To make this conversation easier, here’s a list of questions covering many important aspects of prescription opioid use. Simply pull up this list on your phone during your medical appointment, or download a printable version to take with you.

Why do I need this medication? What will it do for me?

What are the potential side effects of this medication? How can I reduce the risk of experiencing them?

How long should I take this medication?

Is there a danger that I could become dependent on or addicted to this medication? How quickly could that happen?

Should I be more concerned if I have a history of addiction with tobacco, alcohol or other drugs? What if there’s a history of addiction in my family?

Could this treatment interact with my other medications, or with alcohol?

Are there non-opioid pain relief alternatives that I could consider?

How should I store my opioid medication to prevent other people from taking it?

What should I do with unused opioid medicine?

What happens if I overdose? Should I also have naloxone, a potentially life-saving medication that counters an opioid overdose?

If I begin taking prescription opioid medication, when should I schedule a follow-up appointment with you?