Avoiding Problems from Opioid Pain Medicine

What are opioids?

Opioids (OH-pee-oyds) are medicines used to treat pain. They're also called narcotics. When you take them for more than a few days, they may cause serious problems.

What is tolerance?

If you take opioids every day for a long time they may stop working, and your pain may be as bad as it was before you started taking them. If this happens, you have built up a tolerance to the medicine.

What is withdrawal?

Your body may start to depend on opioids. That means that if you don't take them, or if you take less than your usual amount, you may have withdrawal. Withdrawal can feel like a bad case of the flu. You may sweat, have diarrhea, throw up, or have trouble sleeping. You may ache all over. You might even feel like you will die, but people rarely die from withdrawal.

What is addiction?

Some people become addicted to opioids. The more you take, the more likely this is to happen. Here are some signs of being addicted:

If you are addicted, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It can happen to anyone. But it's important to let your doctor know, because addiction can be treated.

Can opioids make my pain worse?

Yes. If you take opioids every day for a long time, your pain can get worse. It can even cause pain in parts of your body where you didn't have pain before. Other problems you can get from taking opioids for a long time are:

What can I do to avoid problems?

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Avoiding Problems from Opioid Pain Medicine

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Dr. George J. Ceremuga received a Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He served as an Army Officer with the 4th Infantry Division prior to medical school. He received his Doctor of Osteopathy from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed a Family Practice Residency at The Medical Center in Beaver, Pennsylvania.

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