Risks of Taking Prescription Painkillers
Just because it’s prescribed by your doctor, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Unfortunately, this belief has led many people down the path of addiction because they didn’t know to approach their medication with caution. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 50% of heroin users can trace the roots of their substance abuse back to the medications they were prescribed by their doctor for pain management.
Along with the risk of developing an addiction to prescription pain pills, it is also entirely possible to overdose on these medications, and long-term use can come with serious side effects that are similar to those from taking opioids.
What To Ask Your Doctor Before Taking Prescription Painkillers
Despite the current opioid epidemic in America and the involved risk of taking and abusing prescription pain medicines, many doctors prescribe them without investigating if their patient has a history of addiction or displays other substance abuse risk factors such as poor mental health. If you have recently sustained an injury, are experiencing chronic pain, or are about to undergo surgery, here are five questions to ask your medical professional before accepting a prescription for painkillers so you can avoid serious risks and the chance of developing a dependence that turns into a full-blown addiction at all costs.
- Are there non-opioid medications I can take that will effectively treat my pain?
Over the counter pain relievers can be made at prescription dose and there are benefits of taking these forms of pain relief, even if it means you experience mild discomfort. However, some serious injuries or major surgeries require prescription drug opioid pain relief.
- What if there is a history of addiction in my family, or markers for other forms of addiction in myself?
If it is not included in your patient information, you should definitely talk to your doctor about the risk involved with taking prescription opioids. Your doctor should either be able to provide you with an alternative pain medication or signs to look for that indicate you are at risk of developing an addiction.
- Can I lower the dosage or length of time I take this medication?
Pain is supposed to decrease over time but there are not always built-in instructions for lowering your dose to make sure you do not trigger an addiction or potential side effects. Ask your doctor about when the pain is expected to subside and how to safely take partial doses or increase the time between doses.
- Can I switch to a non-opioid medication once the most intense period of pain has passed?
Some pain needs opioid medications at first but then can be alleviated with non-opioid prescriptions, over the counter pain relievers, or holistic approaches like physical therapy.
- What should I do if I have leftover pills?
Your doctor can advise you on how to safely dispose of your leftover medications so yourself and others are not at risk of abusing the medication or of accidental overdose.
Once you have begun taking prescription pain medication, don’t be afraid to call your doctor if you begin to feel uncomfortable with how you are feeling or thinking while on the medicine.
Painkiller Addiction: Know The Signs
Addiction to painkillers is a gradual process, and many don’t realize they have a dependency until it’s progressed greatly. There are a few things to look out for that are indications that you could develop an addiction to your pain medication.
You are not following the recommended dose: This is not always obvious. You might be convincing yourself that because you have been prescribed an opioid and you’re taking the same amount in a day that you would if you followed the dosage directions, you are not abusing the medication, but taking this medicine incorrectly to save up and take more later increases the effect of the opioids and triggers the dependency response in your brain.
You have more than one prescription: You run out from one doctor but you are still feeling pain so you go to another doctor and smudge the truth a little so you can get another prescription. If your original doctor is no longer willing to prescribe you more painkillers, or you are unwilling to ask, this is an indication that something more is going on.
You are getting medications from somewhere other than a doctor: buying a friend’s leftover pills, ordering medication over the internet or buying off the street, or asking family members for their medications are all things people begin to do to maintain an addiction. Getting medications this way also puts you at significant risk of opioid overdose through incorrect doses or laced counterfeit pills.
You have been taking them for a long time: If you have been prescribed opioids to treat a chronic pain disorder, even if you take them as recommended and are getting refills from the same doctor, long term use can turn into a dependency and then addiction if for some reason, the medication is no longer available. Patients with chronic conditions should investigate other methods of pain relief to improve their health and wellness and stop taking prescription opioids.
Serenity Oaks for Painkiller Addiction Treatment
Attending rehab should not be a last resort, especially when it comes to treating addiction to prescription painkillers. If you have a history of addiction in your family or have personally struggled with addiction but face a major surgery or are recovering from a serious injury that requires opioid pain management, using a treatment center as a tool to prevent relapse or developing addiction is an option available to you. There are even inpatient treatment options at residential facilities available while you recover from surgery or injury so your medication can be safely administered to you by certified medical caretakers instead of giving yourself personal access to large amounts of medication.
Serenity Oaks Wellness Center is the leading addiction treatment program in South Florida and is available to you as a resource to prevent relapse through use of prescription opioids, or begin treatment and recovery from an addiction from long term use of prescription painkillers.
We are prepared to meet you at any stage you might be at and offer our arsenal of effective programs and resources. Our team of doctors, counselors, and staff understand the toll addiction takes, especially with prescription painkiller addiction that is introduced through legitimate channels, only to turn into a life altering situation.
Call our counselors today at 833-725-0077 to discuss all of your recovery options. You’ve already taken the first steps towards wellness, let Serenity Oaks Wellness Center help you complete the journey and improve your quality of life.