How Chronic Pain and Surgery Has Led Many to Opioid/Painkiller Addiction
Chronic pain and it’s treatment has become one of the most controversial topics within the medical field. It can be assumed that many people throughout their lifetime will experience some form of severe pain or major surgery within their lifetimes, especially the elderly who experience it much more frequently than the youth. The debate we will be discussing is how these medical conditions often lead to pain medication abuse and often opioid dependence.
In a previous blog, it was discussed that mental illnesses are one of the leading causes for addiction. Within that field of medicine, pills are not only overprescribed but also mistreated. We are seeing similar trends amongst those being given medication as a means of treatment for severe pain. Considering that 30% of Americans suffer from acute/chronic pain, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the recent opioid epidemic has been linked to prescription medication.
People are given a prescription to ease their discomfort - whatever that might be. Even if someone doesn’t abuse these prescriptions, there’s still a chance they’ll become addicted or dependent on the drug. If this becomes the case, there are two possible scenarios to follow:
- The prescription will continue, likewise with addiction.
- The prescription will end and the addicted individual will search to fill the void through other means, such as alcohol or harder drugs.
The first scenario is more prominent with the elderly as their pain is usually recurrent. The second scenario finds more influence over the youth. Being that the young body has the ability to revive itself better, prescription medication is only necessary for so long.
We will be looking further into how these doctor prescribed addictions are leading us deeper into an opioid epidemic. Then we will seek out the different medications being prescribed to the variety of pains people will experience. This is to promote our knowledge on the topic for the sake of those around us. Finally, we will focus on ways in which we can prevent these scenarios from happening.
Prescription Medication and the Opioid Epidemic
To begin, it should be noted that as we go about discussing this topic, there are two important roles of prescription medication. The first has already been mentioned - the negative aspect of doctors inevitably prescribing addiction. Yet, there’s also the other side of the spectrum. That is prescription medication’s foundational position within our society for reducing individual’s tribulation.
When discussing topics such as addiction, it’s often ignored that there is proper reason for these drug’s existence. It’s important to consider these as we go about handling conversation regarding substance dependence. For those individuals who fit the category, they do not understand the proper use of these medications. They comprehend desires, not necessities.
There are a number of rationales as to why there’s currently an opioid epidemic. The most alarming is doctors carelessly over prescribing opiate medication. With this, there’s the obvious notion that people will have the tendency to abuse what they can get their hands on - especially those with addictive qualities.
However, there are instances where patients don’t realize the dangers of misusing their medication because they’re “safe”, and prescribed by their doctor. They go by their doctor’s word and take more than the necessary amount. Not only risking their lives from overdose, the issue is that when patients receive too much of a medication, there is the idea that overabundance of drugs is necessary.
Statistics have shown that within the last twenty-five years, the amount of prescription sales has skyrocketed. Parallel to this data, the number of opioid overdoses and heroin addictions has also increased.
This dilemma has created a major problem for healthcare providers. It is their job to supply patients with as much pain-free care as medically possible. Painkillers and opioids offer exactly this to their patients. Yet, they must also do so in a manner that prevents misuse and abuse.
Luckily, there is much research currently being made that seeks to provide treatments in which new pain relievers can supply with a much-reduced chance of abuse.
What to Look Out For With Chronic Pain and Medication
When it comes to chronic pain - whether it be after surgery or natural complications - there are six common medications one can expect to be prescribed. The list below is intended for informing of what these pills are, how they’ll make the user feel, and their addiction level.
- Acetaminophen The most common medication linked to this drug is Tylenol. It is generally used as a means of reducing fevers and relieving minor pain. Being that it can be purchased over the counter, the substance is not as strong as some to follow within this list. For this reason, it likely will not become addictive. Consistent acetaminophen use can still pose health risks, however, especially combined with alcohol. Liver failure is the most common health risk associated with this drug.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) Like Tylenol, NSAIDs are frequently used for fevers, pains, and headaches. The four most common NSAIDs are 1) ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), 2) aspirin (Bayer), 3) naproxen (Aleve), and celecoxib (Celebrex). These are usually purchased over the counter and are less damaging to the liver. Yet, there are also prescription NSAIDs work the same but are stronger dosage. There are signs of addiction linked to this medication. People have been known to use it as a means of improving certain aspects of their lives (such as exercising). Still, it remains less addictive in comparison to the substances that will follow.
- Antidepressants This medication is generally more common with mental health issues, such as depression and/or anxiety. However, antidepressants have been prescribed as a means for chromic pain relief as well. SSRIs (antidepressants) are used as a means of increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain restoring chemical balance. Antidepressants are highly addictive for this reason and often, are one of the substances overprescribed by doctors. Likewise, they include their own set of withdrawals that should be looked into.
- Corticosteroids These are prescribed as a way of preventing inflammation in certain areas of the body. They act boost hormone production within the body when levels are low. People have been known to abuse corticosteroids as a way of upping their workouts. For this reason, they are addictive and come with their own set of withdrawals.
- Anticonvulsants There are a diverse amount of drugs that can be labeled as anticonvulsants. Typically, they are used as a means of preventing epileptic seizures but have shown positive results in treating bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. Being their high addictive levels, it is less common to see these prescriptions appear in the hands of patients. However, there are drugs highly similar with less of the effects that are more common - such as general anesthesia - and hold similar addictive patterns.
- Opiate Pain Relievers
Opioids are the most common pain reliever linked with addiction. When the most severe of pain hits - especially after surgeries - this is go-to drug to get rid of said pain. They are highly addictive and should be responsibly handled when prescribed. When looking into the types of opiate pain relievers, you will find names such as:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
How to Prevent Addiction While Undergoing Treatment
Doctors sometimes overprescribe medication, but most will monitor your prescription carefully to ensure a lower risk of addiction. Medical care professionals will prescribe your pain medication with the right dosage and frequency for the issue at hand, however, even if patients take their medication as prescribed, there’s still the very real possibility of becoming dependent.
If you find yourself becoming dependent on your medication, it’s important to speak with your medical provider as soon as possible. Opioids in particular are extremely addictive and carry the possibility for overdose and extremely unpleasant withdrawals. Medical detox is typically necessary, followed by outpatient services and aftercare.
If you or anyone you love is currently undergoing such suffering and expecting treatment, it’s vital you keep an eye out for developing dependence. If you’re looking for more information on opioids or painkillers, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Call us today at 602-535 6468 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Stonewall Institute Treatment Center on Friday, October 6th, 2017 @ 5:51PM
Categories: Drug Treatment Arizona
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