Speak Out

Have the Opioid Talk

The most important talk about opioids is the one you should have with your own doctor or dentist. Don’t just listen—have a conversation, and take a more active role in your health care. Just 48% of Utahns talk to their doctors about the risks associated with opioids. Start by asking your doctor or dentist more questions when they prescribe painkillers.  Before you take an opioid, ask these five questions.

  1. Am I at risk for addiction?
  2. Will something else work?
  3. How long will I be taking them?
  4. Are you prescribing the lowest possible dose?
  5. What’s the plan to taper me off?


Learn the benefits and dangers of opioids. Ask questions. Take control of your care. The longer you take opioids, the higher the chance for addiction. And overdose. Or even death. It’s a problem we can’t ignore any longer.

After talking to your health care provider, you might decide that the benefits outweigh the risks of opioid treatment. Remember, you don’t have to fill your entire prescription at once. You can ask your pharmacist to partially fill your prescription. If you need the rest later, you can get it. Your doctor or dentist don’t want to see you become addicted, but many of them are not trained in addiction or pain management.

Opioid Addiction is a Disease

Addiction can happen to anyone. Prescription opioids are just as addictive as heroin. That’s why most opioid addiction begins with a legal prescription and can happen in as little as seven days. Addiction is more than a serious medical condition. It’s a disease. The drugs change the brain itself, which is why it’s considered a brain disease. They change its structure and how it works. Such changes can be long lasting and lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.

Another name for addiction is opioid use disorder. It’s a chronic, relapsing brain disease with symptoms that include compulsive seeking and use of the drug, despite harmful consequences.

While the initial decision to use drugs is mostly voluntary, addiction can take over and impair a person’s ability to use self-control.

Brain-imaging studies from people addicted to drugs show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision making, learning, memory and behavior control. Scientists believe these changes affect the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of someone with substance use disorder.

Be Part of the Solution

Utah has many prevention coalitions throughout the state dedicated to providing information and resources and who also coordinate volunteer efforts in local communities to help prevent opioid addiction.

Visit the Utah Prevention Coalition Website to learn more.

To reduce the stigma associated with opioid use disorder, talk about addiction being a disease and encourage people to seek help.