Opioid Pain Medicines

Education and Information Leaflet for Patients and Families

You have been prescribed opioid pain medications. This leaflet can deliver some important safety information about opioids to patients and families. Patients, family members, friends and caregivers can play an important role in the safe use of these medications. The purpose of this leaflet is to share important safety information about opioids with them.

  • For safe balance between pain control and side effects, you need to assess opioid effect and requiring dose regularly.
  • Opioids improve your pain enough for you to do your daily activities, but they don't reduce your pain to zero. If you need opioids for more than a week or two, understand your plans for pain control and work closely with your doctor.


The following are important:

  • Never share opioid medications with others.
  • Store opioids in a safe place. Keep out of reach of children, teenagers and pets.
  • Ask about other options you can use to treat your pain.
  • Take any unused medicines back to the pharmacy where they were dispensed for safe disposal. If you have any questions, talk with your pharmacist.
  • Never leave a person alone if you are worried about them.
  • Ask about take-home naloxone kits.

Risk of overdose and addiction:

Although many people have used opioids without problems, sometimes serious problems have occurred, including overdose and addiction. It is important to follow prescription guidelines, use the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time, and recognize signs of ingesting too much opioids. Avoid alcohol and benzodiazepines. Side effects like constipation, nausea, dry mouth, itching, sweat, dizziness can occur frequently with opioids. If your side effects are difficult to manage, contact your doctor or pharmacist. The ability to operate or operate the machine may be compromised. Some people are more sensitive to opioids' side effects and may need lower starting doses or more careful monitoring.

Discuss the high risk of dangerous side effects with your doctor in the following cases:
  • You have certain health conditions like
    • Airway problem
    • Sleep apnea
    • Lung disease (e.g. COPD or asthma)
    • Kidney disease
    • Liver disease
  • You have never taken opioids before
  • You are already taking an opioid or medications for anxiety or to help you sleep
  • You have a history of problems with alcohol or other substances
  • You have had a bad reaction to an opioid before
  • You are age 65 or older

Signs of Overdose

Stop taking the drug and get immediate medical help if you experience the following:

  • Severe dizziness
  • Inability to stay awake
  • Hallucinations
  • Heavy or unusual snoring
  • Slow breathing rate

Your family member or caregiver needs to call 998 if:

  • You can’t speak clearly when you wake up
  • They can’t wake you up
  • Your lips or fingernails are blue or purple
  • You are making unusual heavy snoring, gasping, gurgling or snorting sounds while sleeping
  • You are not breathing or have no heartbeat