More than 4,000 people died from accidental overdose in 2016 according to the Ohio Department of Health. Most of these people\u201463 percent\u2014received a prescription pain medication within the past year. Fortunately, prescription pain medication use is decreasing. The State of Ohio, Governor John Kasich, the Ohio Department of Health and numerous local leaders continue to help communities statewide battle this troubling epidemic. Not everyone who takes prescription pain medication will develop an addiction. However, it is a serious side effect that all patients need to be aware of. Do you have an injury and are worried about being prescribed pain medication? Here are six questions you should ask your doctor. https:\/\/youtu.be\/oN7BQFPl74s 1. What are the risks? Before taking prescription medication, it's important to understand the risks involved. For pain medication, these include: Psychological dependence or addiction Unintentional overdose Side effects such as nausea, sedation, constipation or vomiting Individuals stealing or gaining access to your medication 2. Are there other ways to manage my pain? Yes. With the exception of cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care, opioids are not the first choice pain therapy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nonopioid medications and nonpharmacological therapies provide safer relief from chronic pain. Depending on your condition, common treatments include over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil). Some conditions respond well to tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Others improve with steroid injections. Lifestyle changes may also improve pain. For example, exercise plays a helpful role in back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers. Losing weight also helps lessen the severity of pain in some conditions. Other pain relieving options include massage, physical therapy, cold and heat, yoga and tai chi, chiropractic, acupuncture, meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Ask your doctor which options, alone or in combination, you should explore. 3. How do I take opioid pain mediation safely? You are responsible for managing your pain safely. When taking prescription medication, remember the following: Only use prescription medication as directed by your doctor. Most pain medications are taken as needed, which means you should stop taking them when the pain subsides. If you have questions or concerns about stopping your medication, talk to you doctor. Never share or use someone else's prescription. It's not only unsafe; it may be against the law. Safely dispose of your medication to prevent others from taking it. 4. How do I make sure no one else takes my pills? Store your medication in its original container, out of sight. If you worry that family members might accidentally or intentionally take your medication, keep it in a locked container or drug cabinet. Always keep medication out of young children and pets' reach. 5. What do I do with unused medication? Don't keep prescription pain medication in the house where you or your family members can access it when it's not needed. Use one of the following safe disposal options: Follow the instructions for disposal that came with your prescription. Bring drugs to a local drug take-back event or community drop box. Visit pharmacy.ohio.gov\/disposal for a list of pharmacy and prescription drug disposal boxes near you. Toss them in the trash underneath cat litter or something else unpleasant. Flush them. Visit FDA.gov for a list of flushable medications. 6. How can I tell if someone I know is at risk for abusing prescription medications? Although anyone who uses opioids for pain management risks addiction and\/or overdose, certain populations have an increased risk. According to a PubMed review article, risk factors for opioid misuse or addiction include past or current substance abuse, untreated psychiatric disorders, younger age and social or family environments that encourage misuse. If someone you know has the following symptoms, he or she may be in danger of prescription drug abuse or misuse: Frequent doctor visits (to get more pills) Smoking or frequent alcohol abuse Increasing medication dose without consulting with their doctor Depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder Personal or family history of substance abuse Aggressive behavior to get prescriptions Sharing medications. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid or other pain medication addiction, or if you have any questions about safe medication practices, call the TakeChargeOhio Helpline at 1-877-275-6364 or text "4hope" to 741741.