Opioids can be used to help ease moderate-to-severe pain. They are often prescribed after a surgery or injury, or for certain health conditions. These medicines can be an important part of treatment, but also come with serious risks. Work with your health care provider to make sure you are getting the safest, most effective care.
Risks and side effects of opioid use
Opioids have serious risks of addiction and overdose, especially with long term use. An overdose, often marked by slowed breathing, can cause sudden death. Opioids can have side effects, even when taken as told.
Side effects of opioid use
You might need to take more of a medicine for the same pain relief.
You have withdrawal when a medicine is stopped.
More sensitivity to pain
Nausea and vomiting
Sleepiness and dizziness
Low levels of testosterone
This can lead to lower sex drive, energy, and strength.
Itching and sweating
What increases your risk of experiencing opioid side effects?
History of drug misuse
Substance use or overdose
Sleep apnea disorder
Older age (65 years or older)
Mental health conditions
Depression or anxiety
Do not mix alcohol and certain drugs with opioids
Do not drink alcohol while taking opioids.
Do not take the following drugs, unless told by your health care provider.