The number of people becoming addicted to prescription opioids, such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone, is increasing every year in the United States.
Opioid addiction affects individuals of all ages and from all walks of life, many of whom would never take illicit drugs but are willing to take pain relief medication when prescribed by a physician for a specific pain condition.
The increase in opioid addictions can be attributed to varying factors, but here are a few of the reasons patients who would normally never struggle with drug abuse may find themselves addicted to pain medications:
- Because pain medications are prescribed by doctors, many patients have the misconception that these medicines are not as harmful as illegal drugs.
- A dramatic increase in prescriptions written for pain medications over the past decade means more patients are exposed to the potential for addiction.
- The body’s natural build-up of tolerance to medications can cause pain medicines to become less effective over time, often leading the sufferer to increase their dosage in an effort to find relief from pain.
- Failure on the part of many prescribing physicians to fully educate their patients on the dangers and addictive properties of prescription medications leaves more people vulnerable to opioid abuse.
Pain medications are often prescribed for relief from a traumatic injury, after surgery, or for treatment of chronic pain. Understanding the dangers, warning signs and available resources for help with addiction will greatly reduce the potential for patients to fall into the trap of opioid abuse.
In many cases, pain may be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers or alternative treatment methods such as injections, physical therapy or minimally invasive procedures. But when pain is still unmanageable using these alternate methods, opioid pain relief medications may be necessary.
When taking prescribed pain medicine, it is important to ask your physician about necessity, possible drug interactions, side effects, dosage, and perhaps most importantly, addiction. Make sure to follow your doctor's instructions carefully and never exceed your dosage. If your pain is no longer relieved with the medication you’ve been prescribed, consult with your doctor to determine whether a different medication or treatment option might be more effective for your pain.
While your physician can provide education and information about any pain medications being prescribed, it is up to you as the patient to be aware of any warning signs that may indicate a potential for growing dependent on your medicine. If you begin to exhibit any of the following behaviors, contact your physician as promptly as possible to discuss other options for pain relief, or to seek help for an existing addiction if needed.
Warning signs that you may be at risk for prescription opioid addiction:
- Secretive or paranoid behavior
- Downplaying drug use or hiding dosages
- Becoming preoccupied with having the drug on hand at all times
- Needing a higher dosage to achieve the same level of pain relief
- Running out of the drug before your normal prescription refill date
- Taking illegal actions, such as stealing or ‘doctor shopping’, to get more of the drug when your prescription has run out too soon
If you recognize any of these behaviors in your own activities, consult with your physician to learn out what resources are available to help you overcome addiction and what alternative methods may be available to relieve your pain.
It is the responsibility of any prescribing doctor to discuss the dangers of pain medication addiction. But it is ultimately up to the patient to understand and follow all indications and instructions. If you are currently taking prescription opioid medications, remember to ask questions, monitor your behaviors and never exceed your dosage without first discussing with your pain management specialist.
Pain Medicine – Is it Really Necessary?
At Florida Pain Relief Centers, our physicians take great care to prescribe opioid medications only when needed, and to prescribe responsibly. When medications are absolutely necessary, our pain management experts will always counsel the patient with important information about addiction potential and resources.
In many cases, the latest available alternative treatment methods may relieve pain without need for opioids at all. We offer several minimally invasive options for relief from your pain without addictive medications.
To find out how best to treat your chronic pain, call Florida Pain Relief Centers today at 800.215.0029 to schedule a consultation or click the button below to set up an appointment online at one of our clinic locations so we can discuss options for helping restore you to a more pain-free lifestyle.