Harvard Women's Health Watch

When are opioids safe to take?

Opioids are commonly used to control acute, intense pain. Meditation, yoga, and acupuncture may help control pain when tapering off opioids.

Although these powerful pain relievers can be addictive, opioids are safe for most people when used properly.

Sometimes the treatments that work the best have the gravest consequences. Opioids are a prime example. They are unequaled as pain relievers because they block pain perception in the brain. However, in the process, they change the brain so that you need a progressively higher dose to relieve pain, which is called tolerance. Physical or psychological dependence, addiction, and overdose can also result from opioid use. A leading cause of accidental death, opioid overdose claimed 17,000 lives in 2010.

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