You can take a more active role in your health care. Start by asking more questions when your doctor or dentist prescribes painkillers. Just 48% of Utahns talk to their doctors about the risks associated with opioids. Don’t just listen—have a conversation. Before you take an opioid, take a moment to ask your doctor or dentist these five questions:
Take part in your health care by knowing the benefits and dangers of opioids. While doctors and dentists don’t want to see their patients become addicted, many are not trained in addiction or pain management.
If you and your health care provider determine that the benefits outweigh the risks of opioid treatment, Utah law allows you to ask the pharmacist to partially fill your opioid prescription. You can get the rest later, if you need it.
Addiction, also called opioid use disorder, is a serious medical condition. It is a chronic, relapsing brain disease with symptoms that include compulsive seeking and use of the drug, despite harmful consequences.
It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.
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.
Utah has prevention coalitions throughout the state that coordinate volunteer efforts in local communities to help prevent opioid addiction.
To reduce the stigma associated with opioid use disorder, talk about addiction being a disease and encourage people to seek help.