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Safer pain management

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Make safer decisions to manage your pain.

You can keep opioids from being a threat to your life and health, as well as your family. Discuss other pain management options with your health care provider. Choose safer therapies. And always keep medications locked up and dispose of them safely when they are no longer being used.

Discuss the dangers of prescription opioids with your providers.

Opioids are drugs that block pain signals to the brain. Heroin is also an opioid. Opioids can cause physical dependence after just seven days of use. An overdose can happen by accident. Talk with your health care provider about the risks involved with these dangerous medications.

Opioids have very serious side effects, including:

  • Tolerance — a higher dose might be necessary over time to get the same pain relief.
  • Physical dependence — symptoms of withdrawal may occur when the medication is stopped.
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Constipation
  • Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Itching and sweating

Commonly prescribed opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl

Risks are greater with:

  • A history of drug misuse, substance use disorder, or overdose
  • Mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety
  • Sleep apnea

Get the Facts About Prescription Opioids

Learn the risks, the dangers of mixing drugs with alcohol, and more.

10 things parents can do

Decide to choose safe ways to manage pain.

There are safer ways to manage pain than using prescription opioids. In fact, recent studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that using non-opioid therapies significantly lowers pain intensity when compared with opioid therapy.

Manage your pain.

Consider these non-opioid ways to manage pain, such as:


A form of exercise that combines breath control, meditation, and movement to strengthen muscles and relieve stress. Download a yoga fact sheet (PDF).

Visit to find a certified yoga teacher near you.


A therapy that targets peripheral nerves using thin needles, heat, and pressure applied to certain areas of the body. Download an acupuncture fact sheet (PDF).

Visit the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s website at, and click on Find a Practitioner.


Manipulation of the soft tissue of the body, using stretching techniques and applying varying degrees of pressure. Download a massage fact sheet (PDF).

Visit the American Massage Therapy Association’s website at, or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage’s website at

Physical therapy

A combination of controlled exercise, manual therapy, and education. Download a physical therapy fact sheet (PDF).

Visit the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation’s online license verification service at

Cognitive behavioral therapy

A form of talk therapy that helps to modify negative emotions, behaviors, and thoughts in order to address the awareness of pain. Download a cognitive behavioral therapy fact sheet (PDF).

Visit the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies’ website at

Chiropractic therapy

The use of hands or special instruments to manipulate the spine to reduce stress and pain. Download a chiropractic therapy fact sheet (PDF).

Visit the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation’s online license verification service at

Interventional procedures

Proven therapies such as steroid injections, nerve blocks, joint injections, and other treatments that may help reduce pain. Download a fact sheet about interventional procedures (PDF).

Make healthy choices.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Download a fact sheet on healthy lifestyles (PDF).
Stay active and exercise.
Use over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or ibuprofen (like Advil and Motrin) to relieve pain, before talking with your health care provider about opioids.
Make a plan
with your health care provider and follow their guidance.

Managing Chronic Pain:
A Guide for Patients

Learn about the safe methods to manage chronic pain, including therapies and over-the-counter medications.

Download the guide