The truth about prescription painkillers is not as well-known as it should be. In the United States, nearly 1.9 million people are dependent on or addicted to these substances, which is about 0.8 percent of the population. While you or someone you love may only be taking one of these medications in order to legally treat pain under the care of a doctor, here are a few facts you should know in order to help you avoid any serious side effects of opioid use.
First, opioid addiction can occur whether you are taking your medication under a doctor’s prescription or not. Some people start out taking the drug the way their doctor tells them and then start taking them more often, in higher doses, or in a different way than prescribed. This is always considered abuse and can lead to addiction.
Second, your chances of experiencing addiction increase when you take these drugs for more than 7 days. This includes legitimate use. Those who want to avoid any potential for addiction should take their medication only as prescribed and to discuss a regimen of no longer than one week with their doctor.
Third, your use of painkillers can potentially cause psychological side effects of which you may not even be aware. Many people experience depression, an inability to control both negative and positive feelings, and reduced cognitive functions, all as a result of taking these medications for a long period of time. All of these issues can be treated, but it is much safer to avoid them altogether. The best way you can achieve this is to stay in constant contact with your doctor and to avoid taking the drugs themselves any longer than necessary.
Finally, you must understand that painkillers themselves won’t actually fix your pain. What they will do instead is block the sensation, allowing you to avoid feeling it. The problem continues to exist, and over time, your brain will become less able to cope with pain on its own because it has been minimized for so long by the drug. This can lead to a reduced production of necessary neurotransmitters in the brain, which goes hand-in-hand with dependence.
Being aware of these opioid facts will allow you to avoid problems that could potentially occur with your use. However, the best way to make sure you do not experience any of these issues is to shun prescription painkillers use as much as possible. There are a number of alternative treatments that people with long-term pain issues prefer to drug use, including yoga and meditation.
If you have experienced an accident or if you are going through surgery, it is best not to use painkillers for longer than 7 days in order to avoid the first big risk factor associated with these drugs. As long as you stay in contact with your doctor and remain aware of the potential side effects of opioids, you should be able to protect your brain and body from all of these issues.