4 Tips for Helping People with Chronic
Pain Avoid Prescription Opioid Addiction
are becoming a serious problem in
America. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that nearly 40 Americans
die each day due to overdosing on prescription painkillers. As early as 2013,
approximately 1.9 million people either were abusing or were relying on
prescription opiates. In 2014, 18,893 overdose deaths
related to prescription pain relievers
were reported, and between 1999 and 2014 more than 165,000 people died in the
United States due to prescription opioid overdoses.
prescription painkillers are responsible for at least half of all U.S. opioid
overdose deaths. Obviously, the United States has an opioid prescription
epidemic on its hands. That’s why it’s more important now than ever before to
help people with chronic pain to avoid prescription opioid addiction.
1. Get educated on prescription opioids – Education is one of the best ways to
combat prescription opioid addiction. If you or a loved one has chronic pain,
it is important to talk to a health care provider and do the research to know
as much as possible about prescription opioids.
The drugs most
commonly involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths are methadone,
oxycodone (OxyContin), and hydrocodone (Vicodin)
opioid overdose rates were highest among people aged 25 to 54 years
opioid overdose rates are higher among non-Hispanic whites and American Indian
or Alaskan Natives, as compared to non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics
Men are more
likely to die from a prescription opioid overdose, but the gap in mortality
rates between man and women is closing
opioid abuse and addiction are on the rise – in 2014, nearly 2 million
Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids
As many as 25% of
people who receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer care struggle
Every day, more
than 1,000 people receive treatment in emergency departments for misusing
2. Ask for alternative treatments
– If you are concerned about a loved one
who has a propensity for addiction taking prescription opioids, discuss your
concerns with the doctor and consider asking for alternative treatments
. Non-opioid drugs, such as antiepileptic
drugs, antidepressants, and antiarrhythmic drugs are effective in treating
therapies along with physical and occupational therapies are other alternatives
to prescription opioids. Sometimes, doctors must collaborate with peers to
determine the best alternative treatments and courses of action when treating
patients with chronic pain.
professionals determine that a person who has both chronic pain and a
propensity for addiction absolutely must take a prescription opioid, it is
possible to put some safeguards in place. For example, the patient may receive
psychological counseling while taking the opioids.
Another option is
for the doctor to establish some guidelines for the patient while taking the
prescription opioids, including receiving them from only that doctor and from
only one pharmacy. The doctor also may order drug tests or indicate that lost
medicine will not be replaced.
3. Determine the risk factors before
beginning a prescription opioid regimen – It is well within a patient’s rights to discuss the risk factors of
taking a prescription opioid with a health care professional before taking the
medication. Knowing the risk factors and weighing the benefits and risks is one
of the best courses of action to take to help people with chronic pain avoid
prescription opioid addiction.
include a history of addiction to prescription medicine or illicit drugs,
addiction to alcohol or tobacco, a family history of addiction, and a family
history of mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, anxiety
disorders such as PTSD, thought disorders such as schizophrenia, and
personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.
4. Be aware of the warning signs when
someone with chronic pain takes prescription opioids
Of course, you
should be aware of the warning signs
of opioid addiction before it is out of
control. If your loved one with chronic pain is taking prescription opioids and
exhibits any of the following warning signs, you should seek professional help
Change in sleep
exercise habits or energy level
relationships and social connections
Changes in work
or school habits
If your loved one
is lying to you or his health care provider, it is an indication that he may be
addicted to the prescription opioids. Discussing the problem is a must, and it
is important to include the doctor in the discussion.
There is an indirect link
between prescription painkillers and
suicide, so please seek help if a family member or friend is or even might be
addicted to prescription painkillers. While it may be more common for those
suffering from chronic pain to accidentally overdose on prescription opioids
than it is to commit suicide with them, women are at a greater risk for suicide
with prescription opioids than men. Prescription painkillers are a cause of
depression, and people living with chronic pain already are at an increased
risk for suicide because of their condition.
Jennifer McGregor is the co-creator of PublicHealthLibrary.org, which was made for one of her pre-med classes as a project. With the
site, she intends to provide various resources pertaining to medical inquiries
and general health. When Jennifer is not busy being a student, she enjoys
walking her dog through the park.
*Note: Peaceful Warriors does not treat, cure, or diagnose illnesses or conditions. Information shared here is simply for informational purposes only. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction or is suicidal it's important to get appropriate medical and/or psychological care from a licensed healthcare professional.
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