Forming an Opioid Treatment Plan
You may be considering opioids as part
of your pain management plan. These are strong medicines that work by blocking or
suppressing how your body feels pain. Opioids can work very well to treat pain, but
come with certain risks and side effects. Before prescribing opioids for your pain,
healthcare provider will work closely with you to form a treatment plan. This will
make sure you are getting the safest, most effective treatment for your pain. Your
treatment plan will include discussions about your pain and health history and your
treatment goals. If it's decided that opioids should be prescribed, your healthcare
provider will then make a plan with you for how long to use the medicines, when to
them, and how to stop (withdraw) them. Regular follow-up and monitoring will also
Shared decision-making means that
you and your healthcare team work together to make decisions about your care. It's
important that you understand all of your options and choose the care and treatment
that's right for you. When considering opioid medicines as part of a pain management
plan, make sure to:
Share any past history of
substance use (drugs or alcohol) with your provider.
Work with your healthcare
team to create a plan to manage your pain.
Discuss ways to help manage
your pain that don’t involve prescription opioids.
Understand the benefits,
risks, and side effects of prescription opioid treatment.
Ask questions and discuss
your concerns before starting and during your opioid treatment.
Before prescribing opioid medicines, your healthcare provider will evaluate your pain
and overall health. This includes a physical exam and review of your pain history
and health history. Your healthcare provider may also ask about your mental and emotional
health and whether you have personal history or family history of substance abuse
(such as drugs and alcohol). Be open and honest with your healthcare provider. This
will help ensure that a safe and effective plan is developed.
Your healthcare provider may ask you:
To describe how your pain affects your life. This can include how it affects your
relationships, work, and sleep.
To describe how long you have
been having pain, how severe it is, and if it's getting better or worse
What you have done to treat
your pain and what did and didn’t help. This includes any alternative healing
practices you have tried.
To discuss what medicines you take or have taken for pain. This includes all prescription,
over-the-counter, herbal remedies, supplements, and illegal or street drugs.
To keep a diary to track your pain before starting any opioid medicines
Tests and screenings
To help determine whether opioid treatment is appropriate and safe for you, you may
need certain tests and screenings. Depending on your risk for side effects, some tests
and screenings may need to be repeated during the course of your treatment. Tests
and screenings may include:
Urine or blood tests to screen for drugs
Blood tests including kidney and liver function tests
Testing for hepatitis C, HIV, and tuberculosis (TB)
Opioid medicines can help reduce
your pain, but they often can't provide complete relief. When you have pain, the goal
treatment is to relieve pain to an acceptable level for you, and to improve function
daily life. Understand that function can improve even when you still have some pain.
know that the benefits of long-term use of opioids for treating pain remain unclear.
general, you should only remain on opioids if they continue to improve pain and function
without increasing the risks to your health. Be realistic about the possible benefits
opioids may have on your quality of life. Make sure the goals you and your healthcare
provider set are reasonable and reachable.
Stopping opioid treatment
To stop opioid treatment safely and to help manage withdrawal symptoms, you will need
help from your healthcare provider. You and your healthcare provider will discuss
a plan for stopping opioid treatment ahead of time. In most cases, the amount of medicine
you take will be cut down, and you will be weaned off the medicine slowly.
Following up with your healthcare provider
You will need to see your
healthcare provider for regular follow-up visits if you are prescribed opioids. It's
very important that you see your healthcare provider as scheduled. These visits help
and your healthcare provider monitor how well treatment is meeting your goals and
evaluate for any side effects. This helps ensure the medicines are working well for
and being safely used.