Painkillers are prescribed for a tremendous variety of illnesses (and injuries), from wisdom teeth removal to chronic back pain to post-operative recovery. The conventional portrayal of addiction to painkillers conveyed in the media is often very different from what patients find in their own experience. In fact, some patients may resist taking their prescription painkillers (or take a lower dose on an infrequent schedule) because they are worried they will become addicted to pain medication. Most prescription painkillers (such as larger doses of ibuprofen), however, depend on maintaining a certain presence in the bloodstream to maintain their full effectiveness. If patients have doubts about the dosage, they may wind up taking the pill for a longer period than they originally were prescribed.
Many patients also don’t differentiate between physical dependence and addiction to painkillers. Over time, the body forms a tolerance to drugs (and even to some drugs that are not addictive at all), which means a person who has been taking prescription painkillers for a number of years may require a higher dosage to function than they did when they first started taking the drug. Using a higher dose of pain medication to fulfill its medical purpose (sustained normal function with limited pain, for example) is not addiction.
So what is “true” addiction to painkillers and how can it be avoided?
First, patients should adhere to the directions given by their physician and pharmacist. Pain medication that requires accompanying food or water should always be taken with food or water, or the patient risks serious gastrointestinal problems (and other conditions) depending on the dosage. If you notice that your current dosage is becoming ineffective during the course of routine daily activity, be sure to ask your physician about your dosage before you attempt to take additional pain medication.
Where patients begin to wander into the realm of addiction is when they take prescription painkillers for non-medical (i.e. recreational) uses. Some stronger painkillers produce feelings of mild to moderate euphoria as well as feelings of mild to moderate intoxication and pursuing these feelings with recreational painkiller use represents the threshold of addiction. If you find yourself using painkillers for anything other than addressing pain during daily activity, talk to your physician immediately. Physicians typically will have access to information regarding detoxification programs, as well as dosage plans and alternative medications that may help accelerate the recovery process and reduce the severity of withdrawals.
Take painkillers only when they are required and Keep yourself safe
Do you have any other methods to avoid pain killer addiction?
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