In 2019, nearly 71,000 people died from a drug overdose
1.6 million people had an opioid use disorder in the past year
10.1 million people misused prescription opioids in the past year
The number of people who asked their doctors questions before starting opioids: Unknown
It’s time to take an active role in your health and ask your doctor questions. With opioids, you want to have all the answers before taking that first pill. When your doctor prescribes painkillers, ask these questions:
Am I at risk for addiction?
Roughly 21-29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
Addiction can happen to anyone. You’re at even greater risk if drug and alcohol addiction run in your family. Drugs change the brain itself and the effects can be long-lasting and lead to many harmful behaviors.
Opioids are effective but addictive. In certain situations, they are the perfect solution to your problem. But there are many safe, less addictive alternatives you can try. Talk to your doctor or dentist before starting opioids to see what’s right for you.
Will something else work?
Between 8-12% of people using an opioid for chronic pain develop an opioid use disorder.
There are safer alternatives to opioids, some that have fewer risks and side effects.
Ask your doctor if one of these could work for you:
A combination of acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®)
Certain medications that are also used for depression or seizures
How long will I be taking them?
About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
Opioids are addictive and the longer you’re on them, the higher the risk for addiction. Talk to your doctor about when to start taking them and when to stop, down to the hour.
Make a note in your calendar or set reminders on your phone with these dates and times, to cut the risk of addiction.
Are you being prescribed the lowest possible dose?
Over 70% of the nearly 71,000 drug overdose deaths in 2019 involved an opioid.
There are many pain management factors, including weight, health, and pain tolerance. Talk to your doctor about the right dosage for your circumstances.
Never take opioids more often or in higher doses than prescribed or directed.
What’s the plan to taper me off?
An estimated 4-6% who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
There are two big factors that increase your chance of developing an opioid use disorder. The first is the length of time your doctor initially prescribed you to take them. The second is how long you continue taking them after your initial prescription.
Ask your doctor about their plan to safely wean you off opioids so you’re not creating opioid dependency.
Talk To Your Doctor
Three doctors share details about the opioid epidemic happening in our state and ways to advocate for your health.
How is the opioid epidemic in Nebraska? | :04
Who’s at risk for an opioid use disorder? | :21
Who’s most likely to develop an opioid use disorder? | 1:07
Why ask for a low dose when prescribed opioids? | 1:45
How can I minimize my risk for opioid addiction? | 2:07
What are some alternatives to opioids? | 2:35
How can I wean off of opioids? | 3:03
Why should I be my own advocate? | 3:32
What questions to ask my doctor? | 4:08
It’s time to talk to your doctor and take control of your health. Ask questions about opioids and do your own research. It’s up to you to be your own advocate.
Resources for healthcare providers
Join us in the fight to end the opioid epidemic — starting with creating awareness. Use these free downloadable resources in your offices, public health clinics, and community spaces.