The opioid epidemic in America is at a record high. A vast majority of the time, people who got addicted initially went to their doctor for pain relief or a medical procedure. Most of them had no intention of developing a painkiller addiction, and they never even saw it coming.
Painkillers like Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet are amongst the most prescribed painkillers in America. This family of drugs is also incredibly powerful. A single prescription – one bottle – is enough to get a person hooked, especially if they take more than the recommended dose. It is vital for people to understand the pills they have in their possession so that they keep themselves and other loved ones safe.
How to Prevent Painkiller Addiction
The truth is that sometimes humans need medication to get through the pain. However, pain medication in the opiate family should only be taken when absolutely necessary. There are a lot of alternatives, which we will get into a little later.
Educating yourself on what your doctor is prescribing is one of the best things you can do to stay safe. If you know the power of what you have in your hands, you will know to be more cautious about taking the pill only as needed. If you feel uncomfortable with what the doctor is giving you, ask for alternative solutions so that you don’t endanger yourself.
Exercise extreme caution if you do decide to take painkillers, and only use them exactly as your doctor prescribed, or less. If taken in small doses, these medications do have the potential to help. If a person takes too many pills, their habit may become a problem. The lines tend to get very blurry, very fast.
In addition to preventing your own addiction, there are steps you can take to ensure that your medication doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Teenagers and young adults often go “shopping” in their family member’s medicine cabinets to see what kinds of pills they can find. If you have a prescription to a strong opioid, make sure to keep it safely out of reach, no matter how trustworthy you think the other person may be. If you have children and teens in your household, educate them on the dangers of drugs and make sure to keep open and honest communication between the two of you.
Pain and Surgery in Recovery
A person in recovery with undoubtedly deal with a level of pain and medical procedures. These kinds of situations often lead to relapse because of prescription medications. An ex-addict may find themselves in so much pain that they feel the only way to cope is with opiate painkillers. There are alternatives.
Your recovery always has to come first before anything. That means you need to protect yourself from anything that could potentially harm you. Be transparent with your doctor so he or she knows your addiction history and understands your relapse potential.
In the event that you have to take a medication that is prescribed to you, it’s a good idea to talk to a trusted loved one about holding onto your medication for you. If you don’t have access to the medicine, you won’t be as tempted to take it when you shouldn’t. Also, the other person can monitor how many you are taking.
Many people in recovery would argue that taking pain medication is the same as a relapse. The best thing you can do is avoid these medications entirely, however, circumstances may arise where that just isn’t possible. It is only a relapse if you begin to take more of the medication that’s prescribed. At that point, you are playing with fire.
Alternatives to Painkillers
The good news is that alternatives to painkillers do exist. Going in for surgery or having intense pain doesn’t mean that your only option is taking opioids and creating a painkiller addiction. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask if they have any suggestions.
Doctors can help guide you toward safer medication you can take without worrying about the possibility of addiction. Many people supplement Tylenol and other over the counter pain medication for prescription pain meds.
Holistic therapy exists that can help ease your pain. Some examples include:
- Light physical exercise
- Guided Meditation
While these techniques aren’t for everyone, they are worth exploring. They can help with your pain in the moment but also help with your overall lifestyle and wellness. Also, learning how to breathe through tough situations will make every situation that comes your way that much easier to handle.
Having pain or needing a procedure performed doesn’t necessarily mean that addiction is in your future. Know your facts, talk to your doctor, explore options, and stay informed.
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