Opioid Misuse


If you control pain with an opioid prescription, you may have been warned about the dangers of misuse. But what is misuse, exactly? Let's take a few minutes to learn about opioid misuse and how to avoid it.

Use only as prescribed

Your medication comes with instructions from your doctor. They tell you how much to take. They tell you how often to take it, and for what reasons. If you stray from these instructions in any way, you are misusing your drug.

Types of misuse

You could misuse your drug in a few ways. You might do it accidentally if you misunderstand the instructions, so read them carefully. It's misuse if you take your drug for a reason it wasn't intended. If your drug is for surgical pain, for example, don't use it for any other pain. Don't use it to help you relax or fall asleep. Never use it to help with feelings or emotions. And when your doctor says you don't need your medication anymore, stop using it. Properly dispose of any remaining pills. Don't save them for use later, or let someone else use them. That is misuse.


Opioid misuse can lead to dependence and addiction, so take it seriously. Talk to your doctor for more information about how to use your medication the right way.