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Opioid Safety

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What do I need to know about opioid safety?

Safety includes the correct use, storage, and disposal of opioids. Examples of opioid pain medicines are oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, and codeine.

How are opioids given?

Opioids can be given as a pill, patch, or suppository. They can also be given as an injection into a vein, near a nerve, or into a joint. Your prescription may include one or both of the following:

How do I use opioids safely?

What can I do to manage constipation?

Constipation is the most common side effect of opioid medicine. Constipation is when you have hard, dry bowel movements, or you go longer than usual between bowel movements. Tell your healthcare provider about all changes in your bowel movements while you are taking opioids. Your provider may recommend laxative medicine to help you have a bowel movement. Your provider may also change the kind of opioid you are taking, or change when you take it. The following are more ways you can prevent or relieve constipation:

How do I store opioids safely?

What is the best way to dispose of opioids?

The laws vary by country and area. In the United States, the best way is to return the opioids through a take-back program. This program is offered by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The following are options for using the program:

What are some other safe ways to dispose of opioids?

The medicine may come with disposal instructions. The instructions may vary depending on the brand of medicine you are using. Instructions may come in a Medication Guide, but not every medicine has one. You may instead get instructions from your pharmacy or doctor. Follow instructions carefully. The following are general guidelines to follow:

What are some other ways to manage pain?

Where can I find more information?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US), or have someone else call if:

When should I or someone close to me call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.