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Opioid pain relievers should only be used for brief amounts of time

The easiest path for anyone concerned about abusing opioid pain relievers is avoiding these drugs completely. However, it is likely that, somewhere in your future you might require the need for opiate painkillers once more. Should you need to take these drugs in the future, do so under the close observation of the physician who prescribed them. Maintain the dosage as it has been prescribed and only take what is necessary to alleviate your pain.

Keep in mind that opioid pain relievers should only be used for brief amounts of time to treat moderate to severe pain symptoms. These drugs alter the brain’s chemical structure after extended abuse. Therefore, you are not only putting yourself at risk for continued dependency, but also potentially harmful and irreversible neurological problems.

All opioid analgesics include this chance of dependency, which is why they are categorized as Schedule IV drugs. Even though they have an accepted medical use, there is still a relatively low potential for either physical or psychological dependency. Therefore, an opioid addict’s best chance of recovery lies in his or her avoidance of future drug uses and exploring of other non-pharmacological methods of pain relief.

If you have chronic pain and are trying to avoid using opiate pain medications, ask your physician about the following alternative treatments for pain, described by AARP The Magazine:

  • Dietary supplements, like glucosamine and chondroitin, which might help to alleviate pain associated with conditions like arthritis
  • Acupuncture, which has been found to relieve pain symptoms associated with various illnesses
  • Herbal and natural supplements
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Physical therapy
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Nutrition––diets rich in fish and flaxseed include an abundance of Omega-3 fatty acids that relieve inflammation
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage

Remember, an individual prone to addiction, such as a recovering addict, will be putting his or her sobriety at risk if they begin taking prescription drugs like Tramadol again. If you are currently taking these drugs and are afraid of becoming addicted or if you realize that you have become addicted, seek out the help of an experienced substance abuse treatment provider today.

How Opioids Work

Opioid drugs bind to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. They tell your brain you’re not in pain.

They are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to other pain medications.

Opioid drugs include:

  • Codeine (only available in generic form)
  • Fentanyl (Actiq, Abstral, Duragesic, Fentora)
  • Hydrocodone (Hysingla, Zohydro ER)
  • Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  • Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond)
  • Oliceridine (Olynvik)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin OxyContin, Oxaydo)
  • Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet)
  • Oxycodone and naloxone

Opioid Side Effects

One of the reasons why your doctor needs to manage pain medications so closely is that they can cause side effects, such as:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting

The drugs lubiprostone (Amitiza), methylnaltrexone (Relistor), naldemedine (Symproic), and naloxegol (Movantik) are approved to treat constipation due to opioid use in those with chronic pain.

Opioids can be dangerous if you take them with alcohol, or with certain drugs such as:

  • Some antidepressants and anxiety medications (particularly benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, ativan and clonazpam)
  • Some antibiotics
  • Sleeping pills

Make sure your doctor knows all of the other medicines you’re taking. That includes:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Herbal supplements

Opioid Tolerance and Addiction

After taking opioid pain medication for a while, you might find that you need more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect in easing pain. This is called tolerance. It’s not the same as addiction, which involves a compulsive use of a drug.

When you use opioid medication over an extended period of time, you can have dependence. This can happen when your body becomes so used to the drug that if you abruptly stop taking it, you get withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

You can also get a serious addiction to opioid pain medications. People who are addicted compulsively seek out the pain medications. Their behavior usually leads to negative consequences in their personal lives or workplace. They might take someone else’s pills or buy them off the street, which is especially dangerous since those drugs are often laced with lethal amounts of fentanyl.  Learn more about what can happen when opioid addiction goes untreated.

If you are having a problem with addiction, you need to see your doctor or an addiction specialist.

Posted in Chronic Pain, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, Opioids, oxycodone

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