Pain Management & Opioid Addiction

Pain management and drug seeing behavior - New Life Medical Addiction Services

Pain management is a major cause of opioid addiction. The problem is that opioids, as a class of drugs, are highly effective in reducing or eliminating the pain from surgeries and injuries but they are also highly addictive. Even with a prescription, a person who takes opioids is at risk of becoming addicted and it is not possible to predict in advance which people will develop a dependence.

Because doctors doing pain management in today’s clinical environment are extremely aware of the potential for opioid misuse and addiction, it’s often difficult to get a physician to increase a pain management dose, or even renew an existing prescription.

Because of this, some opioid users who believe they need to increase their own doses go to street sources to get heroin, oxycodone or other opioids illegally . Some of these illegal drugs, like fentanyl, are extremely powerful and are laced with contaminants and other illicit substances. Fentanyl use in the United States has become pervasive among opioid seekers and has resulted in a record number of overdoses and deaths in the last few years.

When someone takes opioids over a long period of time their body slows its production of endorphins. Endorphins are chemical compounds that mitigate pain and produce a sense of well-being and euphoria. As a person continues to use, they develop a tolerance to the drug which means that the same dose of opioids ceases to produce the same level of good feelings. Continuously seeking increased feelings of pleasure is one reason that opioid addiction is so common.

If you or someone you know has been taking opioids and has developed a tolerance, a doctor’s intervention is required. There are other, safe choices available to help you make a change and continue feeling well. Don’t stop opioid medications without a doctor’s help. Please note that quitting these drugs abruptly can cause severe side effects, but addiction management specialists, like those at New Life Medical Addiction Services in Marlton, New Jersey, can help you taper off opioids slowly and safely.

Addiction Risk Factors

Opioids are most addictive when they are taken in ways other than prescribed, such as crushing a pill so that it can be snorted or injected. This life-threatening practice is even more dangerous if the pill is a long or extended-acting formulation because rapid ingestion can cause an accidental overdose.

The length of time a prescribed opioid is used also contributes to potential addiction. Research has shown that taking opioid medications for more than a few days increases the risk of long-term use, which in turn greatly increases the risk of full-blown addiction.

Known risk factors of opioid misuse and addiction include:

  • Personal history of substance abuse
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Stressful circumstances
  • Work-related problems
  • Unemployment
  • Youth
  • History of criminal activity
  • Risk-taking or thrill-seeking behavior
  • Legal problems including DUIs
  • Ongoing contact with high-risk people and environments
  • Heavy smoking/tobacco use
  • History of anxiety or depression
  • Previous alcohol or drug problems

Additionally, women have a unique set of risk factors for opioid addiction. Research shows that women are more likely than men to experience chronic pain. Furthermore, women are also more likely to be prescribed opioid medications, to be given higher doses of those medications and to use them for longer periods of time. Also, there is evidence that women may also have biological tendencies to become dependent on prescription pain management drugs more quickly than men.

Prevention of Opioid Addiction

Opioids are safest when used for three or fewer days to manage acute pain, such as the pain that follows a surgery or a broken bone. If you need opioids for acute pain, work with your doctor to take the lowest dose possible, for the shortest time needed and exactly as prescribed.

If you’re living with chronic pain, opioids are not likely to be a safe and effective long-term treatment option. There are many other treatments available, including less-addictive pain medications and nonpharmacological therapies. Work with your physician to develop a treatment plan that makes it possible to enjoy your life without opioids.

If you or someone you know is addicted to opioids or alcohol, please contact the caring staff at New Life today to begin a life free of addiction.

Call us at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message.

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