Safe Use of Opioid Medications


If you are currently experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately. If you’re thinking about harming yourself, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, or the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-8255 to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you. For youth under the age of 18, call the Division of Child and Family Services’ (DCFS) Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) at 702-486-7865 in Southern Nevada or 775-688-1670 in Northern Nevada.

Prescription opioids can be an important part of treatment but also come with some serious risks.

Opioids can be used to help relieve moderate to severe pain and are often prescribed following a surgery or injury. It’s important to work with your health care provider to make sure you’re getting the safest and most effective treatment plan.

What are the risks of opioid use?

  • Tolerance - needing to take higher and higher doses of medication for the same pain relief
  • Physical dependence - having symptoms of withdrawal when a medication is stopped
  • Addiction - uncontrollable cravings and inability to control drug use
  • Overdose or even death

How do I safely take opioid medications?

Prescription opioid abuse is a serious public health issue in the state of Nevada. Forty-four Americans die from prescription opioid overdose every day. Understanding the potential risks and how to take these medications properly can help reduce serious consequences.

  • If opioids are to be used, then it should be at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration possible.
  • Do not take your medications more frequently than prescribed and never take extra doses without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.
  • To avoid dangerous interactions, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about all medications you take. Never mix alcohol or other sedating drugs or anxiety medications.
  • Opioids are designed to be taken as needed. Once pain is under control, it is acceptable to take them less frequently or change to alternative options.
  • Never share your medications with others.
  • Leftover medication also poses a risk to others, so unused pills should be returned to the pharmacy or other recommended disposal method.

Get the care and treatment you may need.

If you believe you may be struggling with an opioid addiction, call our behavioral health team toll-free at 1-800-873-2246, TTY 711. Any personal information you share will remain confidential.