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Safe Prescription Opioid Use

Over the recent years, addiction and abuse of pain medications has become a national epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 1,000 patients are treated daily in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids, more than 40 people die every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, and nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. To reverse the epidemic, it’s important to know how to prevent addiction and abuse before it starts. Here are some ways patients can practice safe medication management before, during and after treatment.

Before you take opioid pain medications:

  • Ask about alternatives: Talk with your doctor about pain management alternatives.
  • Know what to expect: Prescription opioids can have side effects, even when taken as directed. Be sure to discuss side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Update your medication list: Ensure your medication profile is up to date at your doctor’s office and pharmacy, so that interactions between medicines can be evaluated.
  • Plan with your doctor: Know when to call them if you experience side effects or do not get expected pain relief.

During treatment:

  • Take medication only as prescribed.
  • Do not mix with alcohol or other medications, including over-the-counter medicine, without talking with your doctor.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery until you are aware of how medications will affect you.
  • Store medications safely, away from children and protected against theft.
  • Do not share medicines with another person. This is not only dangerous, but illegal.

Safely dispose of medication after treatment:

  • Keep out of drains and toilets to protect the water supply from contamination.
  • Use local drug disposal programs that often coordinated through local government, police or fire departments. If a drug disposal program is not available, there are a number of ways to safely dispose of your unwanted medications.
  • The Drug Enforcement Agency partners with local authorities for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This program provides a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing unused or expired prescription medication. Find a local collection site near you. If you’re located in the United States or a U.S. Territory, you can safely dispose prescription drugs at military pharmacies. Learn how

Opiate medications can be an important part in treating pain. As with any medications, there are risks and benefits. Following these basic tips can help keep your treatment with opioid pain medications safe, while ensuring you get the pain relief you need.

Express Scripts pharmacists have the knowledge to advise patients about medication interactions, side effects and the impacts of medications during treatment. To contact Express Scripts, call 877.363.1303 or visit for more information.

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