The Risks of Using Prescribed Pain Medication

By on September 4, 2020
pain medication

When your doctor prescribes pain medication, you likely take it without a second thought. They are a doctor, after all, and you trust their judgment. Whether it’s arthritis pain, back pain, bone deterioration, after-surgery pain management, or injury, doctors commonly prescribe opioids for pain relief. 

However, opioids have received a lot of media attention lately, due to the number of overdoses happening globally, which is raising red flags for those taking them daily. Understanding the risks involved with taking these prescribed medications long term will help you make an educated decision about how you want to treat your ailments.

What is an opioid?

Opioids are a drug class that is used to treat severe and chronic pain. They inhibit your body from sending messages to your brain, telling it that you are in pain. Instead of feeling the discomfort of the pain, you may experience euphoric feelings instead. The most common prescription opioids include:

  • – Morphine
  • – Fentanyl
  • – Oxycodone
  • – Tramadol
  • – Methadone
  • – Codeine
  • – Hydromorphone

What are the risks of taking opioids?

While there is no denying that opioids effectively reduce pain, there are some serious risks involved. In the short term, such as immediately following surgery, they can help mitigate pain during the recovery process. Once you’re healed, you will stop taking the opioids and be back up and running.

The problem comes with long-term use of opioids, such as for chronic pain. The longer that you use opioids, the more tolerant your body gets to the drug. Once you’ve built up a tolerance, the drugs won’t be as effective, and your doctor will need to increase the dosage. You can see how this could be a problem long term. Your body will become entirely dependent on the drug, meaning you can experience severe withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it. These including chills, sweats, diarrhea, vomiting, and depression.

Taking opioids for longer than four weeks will unconsciously increase your chances of becoming addicted. If you ever want to come off the drug, you will likely need to go to drug rehab Orange County CA, where they can help you work through your dependence on the drug, and manage the withdrawal symptoms until you’re clean. It’s an entirely unexpected situation for most people, as many taking prescribed opioids are over 50 and use them for chronic pain. Not knowing the risks means not asking for an alternative.

How to use opioids safely

Now that you know the risks involved, you can speak to your doctor about your prescription to discuss alternative options. If you choose to continue taking your medication, make sure only to take the prescribed amount, even if you start to feel pain. Also, never take any additional sedatives, or drink alcohol when consuming them.

Red flags that could signal that you are becoming dependent on the prescription might include changes in your personality or behavior, running out of your medication early, or you are starting to experience withdrawal symptoms. If any of these happen, it’s vital to let your doctor know straight away.

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The Risks of Using Prescribed Pain Medication