What you need to know about prescription opioids

You were playing some pick-up hockey with friends and slipped and broke your leg. Or you were running across the street, tripped over the curb and fractured your elbow. Or maybe you experience overwhelming pain from a chronic medical condition and your healthcare provider feels opioids may help manage your pain.

It doesn't matter how it happened — your doctor or surgeon may prescribe opioids, such as codeine, morphine or oxycodone, for the pain you are in.

When used as prescribed by a medical professional and as part of a pain management program, opioids can be an effective option for treating pain.

If you are prescribed an opioid, always discuss with your healthcare professional the risk of addiction, potential side effects and additional pain management options. Be sure to also discuss any family history of addiction, other medications you may be taking, and any other medical conditions.

There are also some things to avoid so you can stay safe:

• Never give your prescription opioids to anyone else, even if you think they are experiencing the same level of pain.

• If your opioid isn't effective in managing your pain, see your doctor. Do not take more medication than what has been prescribed to you.

• Do not mix your medication with other drugs (prescribed, over-the-counter or recreational) without consulting your healthcare provider, and never take your medication with alcohol, cannabis or street drugs.

• Never keep unused or expired medication. Pharmacies will dispose of unused and expired medication for you, even if they are not your usual pharmacy. Ask your local pharmacy or check the Ontario Medication Return Program website to find a pharmacy that will accept your medication. Find more information at www.ontario.ca/opioids.