Local hospital wants patients to ask questions and speak up about opioids

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - If you go to any local UCHealth hospitals soon, it'll be hard to miss the large posters about powerful painkillers. They're inside all of the elevators to remind you about the dangers of misuse and addiction.

They say things like, "There's no such thing as safe leftovers," and "Physical dependence on opioids can happen in just five days."

The messages are part of a campaign to encourage patients to ask their doctors questions about drugs like OxyContin or Vicodin before they're ever prescribed.

"I think we've been getting questions from parents already," said UCHealth Memorial Central Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. David Steinbruner. "There's nobody in Colorado that hasn't been touched by this - family or somebody they've heard of, or a classmate."

According to drugabuse.gov, more than 47,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2017.

"Opiates are a good tool for pain, but they're not a good tool necessarily for long term pain and there are consequences. It's okay to ask, and it's okay to try other alternative ways to treat your pain," Steinbruner said.

Doctors at UCHealth Memorial Central says a lot of patients are already thinking about opioid dangers - the posters will just empower people to ask about any concerns.

Questions you can ask include:

-Am I at risk for addiction?
-Will something else work?
-How long will I be taking them?
-Are you prescribing the lowest possible dose?
-What's the plan to taper me off the medication?

"We are more than prepared to talk about it," Steinbruner said, "because every doctor has wrestled with this."