Safe Use: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What can I do if I have questions about my prescription pain medications?

A. First, call your healthcare provider. If you are unable to reach him/her, your pharmacist may be able to answer questions. Another resource would be poison control, which can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. If it is an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

Q. How can I know if the combination of pills I am taking will have a bad interaction?

A. Poison control is available 24/7 to answer any questions you might have about medication interactions. Please call 1-800-222-1222. Also, several “drug interaction checkers” exist on the Internet. If you have any questions about how to interpret the results, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Q. When should I, or someone I know, seek treatment for addiction?

A. Substance abuse, including prescription pain medication abuse or misuse, can be a very difficult yet surmountable challenge.

Two of the most important steps toward getting treatment are:

  1. Knowing the WARNING SIGNS of someone who may be misusing or abusing prescription pain medications.
  2. Knowing WHERE and HOW TO GET HELP.

    In an emergency, dial 9-1-1 or contact the Utah Poison Control Center, 1-800-222-1222.

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treating drug addiction is possible, with the ultimate goal of “enabling an individual to achieve lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce drug abuse, improve the patient's ability to function, and minimize the medical and social complications of drug abuse and addiction. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for drug addiction will need to change behavior to adopt a more healthful lifestyle.”

    Many accidental opiate overdoses occur after a period of abstinence from drug use – whether a person was in drug treatment, the hospital, a detox program, or a correctional facility. This period of abstinence can result in a decreased tolerance which, in turn, creates an overdose risk factor if use resumes. Because we know that relapse is a part of the recovery process, education during drug and alcohol treatment is an important prevention strategy and one that can be very effective.

Q. What are the signs of abuse/misuse of prescription pain medications?

A. The following are some of the warning signs of prescription pain medication abuse/misuse.

  • Experimenting with medications recreationally
  • Sharing prescriptions with others
  • Taking more than prescribed to try to control pain
  • Mixing with alcohol, street drugs, or other prescription medications.

Q. What are the signs of addiction to prescription pain medications?

A. The following are the signs and symptoms of prescription pain medication addiction.

The 4 Cs of Addiction are:

  • Impaired Control over drug use
  • Compulsive use
  • Continued use despite physical, mental, or social harm
  • Craving

Symptoms of Prescription Pain Medication Addiction:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Increased use of the medication
  • Changes in personality, mood, or everyday behaviors
  • Neglecting daily responsibilities
  • Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds and emotions
  • Visiting multiple doctors for the same problem

Call 2-1-1 for a list of local services or treatment centers, or click here to view a map of local resources.

Q. When should I seek medical help?

A. Dial 9-1-1 immediately if a person demonstrates any of the following signs while taking prescription pain medication:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drowsiness or trouble staying awake
  • Snores heavily and cannot be awakened
  • Small pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Skin is cool, clammy, hot, or dry
  • Changes in heart rate or body temperature

Some doctor’s offices are equipped to handle non-life-threatening cases of overdose, but in an emergency, call 9-1-1. An antidote exists that can reverse the overdose.

Q. Can I get a DUI if I am taking prescription medications? 

A. Yes, you can get a DUI when you’re “just” using your own medications. There is no leniency for first-time Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenders. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never even had a speeding ticket and were just taking your prescribed medications. The penalties for a DUI are the same for individuals driving under the influence of drugs or medications as they are for individuals driving under the influence of alcohol. A DUI will change your life and almost always impacts the lives of others.