Do you know what your doctor’s prescribing?

The U.S. opioid epidemic
is here in Nebraska

According to national data:

  • 1.4 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in 2020
  • Over 75% of the nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid
  • 8.7 million people reported misusing prescription pain relievers

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?
As many as 1 in 4 patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggle with opioid addiction.

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?
2.1 million people in the United States are affected by opioid use disorder (OUD).

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®)
  • Naproxen (Aleve®)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Certain medications that are also used for depression or seizures
How long will I be taking them?
About 80% 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.

Am I being prescribed the lowest possible dose?
Nearly 88% of all opioid overdose deaths in 2021 involved synthetic opioids.*

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.


*Excluding methadone

What’s the plan to taper me off?
Heroin use was 19 times higher among those who reported opioid abuse.

There are two big factors that increase your chance of developing 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 serious 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 should I ask my doctor? | 4:08

Take control of your health. Ask questions about the benefits and dangers of opioids and do your own research. Your doctor doesn’t want to see you become addicted either, but 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.

Download Posters
Download Postcard