Using Opioids Safely

Pills with Rx bottle

Opioids are an effective medication prescribed to ease pain. But it’s important to take them safely. Taking too much opioid medication, taking it too long, or not taking it the right way can be harmful.

If you are prescribed opioids, it’s important to talk to your provider about any questions or concerns you may have. In addition, make sure to follow these safety tips:

  • Talk with your provider or pharmacist about how to take prescribed opioids correctly
  • Read any materials your pharmacist provides with the medication.
  • Call your provider if you have any side effects.
  • Use a medicine log, app, or calendar to keep track of when you take your medicine.
  • Don’t take someone else’s opioids or share yours with others.
  • Don’t drive or use dangerous equipment or power tools while taking opioids.
  • Tell your provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including: over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies and supplements. They can tell you if it is safe to take opioids with your other medications.
  • Never drink alcohol or use illegal or street drugs when you’re taking opioids. Combining these substances can be fatal.

Symptoms of opioid overdose

Opioids affect the part of the brain that controls breathing. An overdose of opioids can slow breathing down too much and even stop a person’s breathing. Call 911 right away if you think you or someone else is overdosing.

Some common signs of an overdose include:

  • Abnormally small pupils, called pinpoint pupils
  • Breathing that has slowed or stopped
  • Unconsciousness

Alternatives to opioids

Tufts Health Plan covers pain management services and medications that are alternatives to opioids.

Services include, but are not limited to:

  • Spinal manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy
  • Nutrition counseling

Alternative pain management medications include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen
  • Cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) inhibitors, such as celecoxib

Resources & Tools

Drug Search

Use the drug search tools to find out if your drugs are covered and which tier they fall under on your plan type.

Find a Doctor

Find a doctor within your Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred HMO network or your Tufts Health Plan Senior Care Options network.

Health Library A-Z

Tufts Health Plan has partnered with Healthwise to provide members with access to a library of high-quality content on conditions, treatments and more.