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Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) is helping reduce the risks with new Medicare Part D prescription safety policies and alerts. They are also supporting addiction treatment programs and opioid alternatives. Just as important, the CMS is actively educating both providers and patients on the dangers of opioids.
Opioids are drugs that ease pain. Simply put, they cut the strength of pain signals reaching the brain to curb feelings. Doctors give them to treat pain linked to injury, dental work and surgery.
Types of opioid painkillers include:
Opioids are useful tools to take care of pain when taken the right way. When misused, though, they can lead to dependence, which can then lead to overdose or even accidental death.
Opioids should only be prescribed after other choices are weighed. Less addictive medications, exercise and massage or physical therapy may be less risky ways to handle pain.
Here are a few common signs:
If you think that you've become reliant on opioids, talk with your doctor. It’s a common issue, so don't feel embarrassed. It is a complex link between you and your meds. You can find help. Seeing that there might be a problem is the first step.
Originally published 12/17/2018; Revised 2021
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