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Vivien Williams: This can be a common scenario: raiding the medicine cabinet for leftover painkillers after a sprained ankle or toothache. There's nothing wrong with popping an occasional opioid, right?

Mike Hooten, M.D. (Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic): They are dangerous. They could have adverse effects that the individual doesn't even know about.

Vivien Williams: Including addiction or accidental overdose. So, when is it appropriate to take opioids?

Mike Hooten, M.D.: After an operation, opioids are highly effective.

Vivien Williams: Dr. Mike Hooten is a pain management specialist at Mayo Clinic.

Mike Hooten, M.D: After trauma, for example, severe trauma, opioids would be appropriate.

Vivien Williams: Dr. Hooten says opioids are also beneficial during procedures, such as colonoscopies. Problems happen when people take them without a prescription or for too long.

Mike Hooten, M.D.: If they are predisposed to develop addiction, either neurobiologically or from a behavioral perspective, then all of a sudden we are selecting the individuals who may go on to have long-term problems.

Vivien Williams: If you have pain, talk to your health care provider. For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Vivien Williams.

March 22, 2018