Addiction to Pain Medication – Can that happen to me?

November 12, 2012

Addiction to Pain Medication - Can that happen to me?

Chronic pain, when it becomes part of everyday life is exceptionally challenging. This is the time when good medication is really needed to dull the pain down enough to carry on with some of everyday life’s normal activities. Medication is now part of your routine, it’s a crucial tool to manage the pain. However what about the risk of becoming addicted to these drugs? Probably anyone who has had to take the types of painkilling medications we are talking about here understands the benefit from the drugs is not having a high, it’s getting to a position whereby normal life can recommence. However a very common thing happens to many people when the have chronic illnesses. They become depressed, and depression can make decisions which were once simple when you were lucid into fuzzy hazy situations. By not being able to enjoy life’s pleasures and perhaps depending on others to do the simplest of things can eventually take its toll. Every patient who has to deal with chronic pain should have a doctor that understands the issues and a support network of friends and other healthcare professional is also good. Being able to talk and get all of the relevant information is not just nice; it’s a requirement to chronic pain sufferers. This takes time and understanding, and if that is not present then it’s probable that the chronic pain sufferer will not achieve a recovery or rehabilitation to the level expected or possible. Many chronic pain sufferers have the concern that taking strong painkillers regularly could lead them into an addictive situation and question the likelihood of them becoming addicted to the painkillers. Medical experts say that an addiction is when the drug is taken with the intention of trying to reach a state of euphoria and more and more of the same drug is required to reach the same level as before. Most chronic pain sufferers have a dependence on their painkillers, not an addiction. There is no aim to reach euphoria, the drugs are taken to alleviate pain. However addiction and dependence both have the same negative issue that a tolerance is built up to the drugs so, over time, the amount of drugs that must be taken to maintain the same level of wellbeing will have to be increased.

In some conditions the pain will come and go and it will depend on the drug you are taking whether you can take a day free of painkillers. Some drugs are short acting and so missing today is no problem. However if you are on longer acting medication and you take a day off then perhaps tomorrow you will be in agony. In this case it’s best to keep taking the medication.

Because chronic pain can cause stress, anxiety, fear and worry many other issues align themselves with the condition. In many people there is the issue with pain and pain management as well as a ‘mentality’ issue. People worry about the next bout of pain and then think that, “If I take more pills now then maybe I’ll avert the pain”. This is not helpful because we cannot second guess these things and it can be dangerous to take extra medication.

If the condition deteriorates and you feel more pain then your doctor should be informed. Do not just increase the amount of drugs you are taking. The doctor may advise other medications at a time like this rather than just increasing your usual pills. And if you are lucky enough to start feeling better then the same advice applies. Talk to your doctor, perhaps you are getting better but it may be that your medication is working and as soon as you stop taking it you will feel worse again. And you may feel worse for two reasons, the pain is becoming more intense and you could be having withdrawal symptoms from stopping taking your painkillers.

Alcohol and painkillers is another gray area. Alcohol in small amounts appears to be ok. An occasional small glass of wine or small beer can finish of a meal or evening with friends quite nicely. However never over indulge in alcohol when you are on painkillers prescribed for chronic pain.

Doing it once or twice and getting the happy feelings and perhaps even being pain free or at least in a reduced state of pain all seems to be positive. However this is the first step into alcohol and drug abuse which can lead to addiction and depression commonly arises out of this situation too.

This is the time that the spiral starts to go out of control, the mind is unbalanced and the body is craving not only pain killers but alcohol too. It’s a recipe for disaster, and it’s very easy to find yourself there.

To get back onto the straight and level requires stamina and will power and you are going to have many bad days. You are aiming to become alcohol free, but unfortunately because of your condition you will always have to take pain killing drugs. You must just consider this the price to pay for living a reasonable lifestyle, contemplating life without painkillers perhaps is just not feasible.

And when you are reading the newspaper or watching or listening to some news article keep a sensible attitude. The media is full of stories concerning alcohol and prescription drug abuse and how it is on the rise and they produce negative statistics to overwhelm you. Yet if you live your life sensibly you will not have problems and we all know that the news is always on the lookout for negative angles.

We all have good days and bad days. On the not so good days use your circle of friends or a support network to help you through, some people turn to religion, others apply their own approaches but the secret is to come through it and tomorrow is another day.

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