If you or someone in your family are prescribed  opioids for your pain, you have the following  responsibilities to help ensure you are getting the safest, most effective pain management possible.




Talk to your health care provider about ways to manage your pain that don’t involve prescription opioids. Some of these options may actually work better and have fewer risks and side effects. 


Options may include:

  • Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen

  • Some medications that are also used for depression or seizures

  • Physical therapy and exercise

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, a psychological, goal directed approach, in which patients learn how to modify physical, behavioral, and emotional triggers of pain and stress.



  1. Work with your doctor to create a plan on how to manage your pain.

  2. Know your options and consider ways to manage your pain that do not include opioids.

  3. Talk to your doctor about any and all side effects and concerns.

  4. Make the most informed decision with your doctor.

  5. Follow up regularly with your doctor.

  6. Never take opioids in greater amounts or more often tha prescribed.

  7. Never sell or share prescription opioids.

  8. Store prescription opioids in a secure place, out of reach of others (including children, family, friends, and visitors).

  9. If you have unused prescription opioids at the end of your treatment, find your community drug take-back program.

  10. Don’t take opioids with alcohol and other medications like:

  • Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax® and Valium®)

  • Muscle relaxants (such as Soma® or Flexeril®)

  • Hypnotics (such as Ambien® or Lunesta®)

  • Other prescription opioids


There is insufficient evidence that prescription opioids control chronic pain effectively over the long term, and there is evidence that other treatments can be effective with less harm.


Before you use opioids to treat chronic pain, try safer methods first. These include drug and non-drug treatments. Ask your doctor which options are right for you. Here are treatments for some common causes of chronic pain.

Lower-back pain


Non-drug options: Stay active: walk, swim, bike, or do yoga. Try chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, or massage. Some people find cognitive behavioral therapy helpful. In most cases, lower-back pain goes away in about a month—even without treatment. If not, see your doctor.


Non Opioid Drugs
Try acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.


Non-drug options: To prevent a migraine, avoid things that trigger your headache. These may include alcohol and certain foods. Control stress: stay active, meditate, and breathe slowly and deeply. And make sure you get enough sleep.


Non Opioid Drugs
If you get mild to moderate migraines, first try acetaminophen,  ibuprofen, or naproxen. Or try a mixture of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine as found in Excedrin Migraine and generic versions. If you get severe headaches, or get many in a month’s time ask your doctor about prescription drugs.

Nerve pain


Non-drug options: Try physical and occupational therapy. If you have nerve pain from diabetes, be sure to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.

Non Opioid Drugs
You could try medication that is also used to treat seizures and depression. These can help with nerve pain, too. Also ask about a skin
patch with lidocaine.

Joint pain


Non-drug options: Losing weight and staying active can reduce joint pain. They may even keep your arthritis from getting worse. Try a heating pad for stiffness and ice for swelling. A cane, walker, or over-the-counter knee brace can ease pain.


Non Opioid Drugs
Ibuprofen and naproxen work best. Acetaminophen may also help. Ask your doctor about prescription pain relievers that come in a skin cream form.



Non-drug options: Stay active, meditate, or do
cognitive behavioral therapy. You can also try tai chi, which combines slow, gentle movements with deep 

Non Opioid Drugs
If those don’t work, consider medication, which is sometimes used for seizures and depression.

Cortland Area
Communities That Care

45 Crandall Street 
Cortland, NY 13045

Phone: (607) 299-4910

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