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Pain and Opioid Epidemic

Pain and Opioid Epidemic


Perception of pain is personal. My tolerance for pain is different from how much pain you or the next person can tolerate. Some women can bear extreme pain, and go through childbirth without any pain medications whatsoever. Others would like to get pain medications before they even start the labor process. 

Your husband, while cleaning the gutter, fell and hurt his elbow. He rubs some pain cream on the elbow, and he is as good as new. Your neighbor on the other hand, got cut while mowing the lawn and has to be taken to the emergency room. Different people experience pain differently. Our online Pharmacists  chat often with patients about their pain medications. As such, there are different types of pain medications to treat the different levels of pain. You, or someone you know, may have gotten a prescription for strong pain medications known as opioids following a surgical procedure or for treatment of other painful conditions. 


What are opioids, and when or how did they end up causing an epidemic? We have heard of opioid medications in association with their potential for causing addiction and overdose. Opioids include medications such as oxycodone, fentanyl, and even some illicit drugs like heroin. Though they could provide pain relief, the risk of overdose and addiction is high with the use of these medications. This is made even worse when used in combination with certain other medications, cannabis and alcohol. Addiction arises when these strong painkillers are used, misused and abused.

The opioid epidemic has always been a public health issue, it got more national attention in 2019 as over 70% of the 70,630 overdose-related deaths in 2019 involved an opioid. More recently, drug overdose and death with fentanyl (50-100 times more potent than morphine) have increased significantly across many communities. 

Below are some ‘Do’s and Don'ts’ that could help fight opioid overdose: 

  1. If your doctor prescribes opioids for the treatment of pain, DO NOT take more pills than prescribed.
  2. DO NOT share your medications with another person
  3. Dispose of unused or expired medications properly. How do I dispose of my meds? AskUSPharmacist  today
  4. Watch out for pinpoint pupils, slow/absent breathing, discolored lips and nails, dizziness, cold skin/unresponsiveness (signs of opioid overdose). If present, call 911 and use NARCAN immediately! NARCAN is a nasal spray that reverses overdose from opioids. Here is a quick video on how to use it: MANUFACTURER’S TRAINING VIDEO You can get NARCAN from your local Pharmacy. You don’t need a prescription in some states to get this life-saving spray.

The opioid epidemic is our collective responsibility to fight it! Call 1-800-662-4357 for help with opioid/substance abuse. At Ask USPharmacist we are always here for you!