9 Ways To Avoid An Addiction To Prescription Painkillers

It can be extremely difficult to live with chronic pain. It’s often hard to diagnose the underlying cause, so painkillers are a common method of dealing with this medical condition.

Among these painkillers are a class of drugs called opioids which are widely prescribed for chronic pain. Unfortunately, these drugs also have an addictive quality. In the United States, as many as 1 in 4 people can be addicted to prescription drugs.1 It also becomes a danger when these drugs become accessible to teenagers, and young adults who are especially vulnerable to substance abuse. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take toward preventing chances of addiction.

1. Talk To Your Doctor

Your doctor will alert you if any drugs that he/she prescribes have addictive qualities. If this concerns you, make sure to discuss alternate forms of medication. You may be able to control

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your pain symptoms through other methods like cognitive therapy, physical therapy, and exercise. Other options like injections or local anesthetics may also be of help.2

2. Tell Your Doctor About Risk Factors

Be honest about past substance abuse

There are certain risk factors that make you vulnerable to developing an addiction. These risk factors include:

  • Previous addictions or alcoholism
  • A heavy drinking habit
  • Any form of substance abuse in the past.

You should also let your doctor know about any other supplements you may be taking since these pills can have dangerous interactions with other medications or substances like alcohol.

3. Use Them For A Short While

Use them at the minimum dosage

If your physician decides to prescribe these drugs for you, make sure it is at the lowest dosage for the shortest

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possible period of time. The longer the duration of use, the more likely you can get addicted.

4. Use Them Only As Prescribed

Keep your medication organized as prescribed

Regardless of your levels of pain or discomfort, do not try to change the dosage of your prescription by yourself. Keep your doctor updated about your progress and alert him/her if you think your pain isn’t effectively under control.

5. Keep Medication Out Of Reach

Teenagers and adolescents are likely to steal painkillers

Do not let others in your family have access to your medication, especially young teenagers. Strangely enough, 70% of prescription drug addicts get access to opioids from a family member’s or friend’s prescription.3 Keep your pills in a locked box or safe that would be difficult to steal from. Keep track of your

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pills and take notice if they run out early even when your dosage hasn’t been increased. Adolescents and young adults are most vulnerable to substance abuse, so make sure to educate your kids on the dangers of drug dependency.

6. Get Help

 Give someone else the responsibility of giving you your medication

If you’re really worried about developing an addiction, give the responsibility of handing you your medication to someone else. Make sure that this person is trustworthy and reliable. If they have control over your dosage, you have no opportunity to seek out more than you’ve already been prescribed. They must also have the authority to speak up or contact your doctor if they notice any signs of misuse.

7. Always Take Your Dosage On Time

Don’t skip your medication while on prescription

Most people ignore their daily dosage because they don’t think their pain is

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too severe. If you wait until your pain gets “bad enough” you run the risk of taking too many pills at one time to compensate. This can build your tolerance over time which means, eventually, you’ll need more pills to control the pain.

8. Keep Track Of Your Pain

Keep track of the progression of your pain

Since pain is subjective, doctors have to rely on their patients’ feedback. Keep a journal to record the progression of your pain along with steps you may be taking to reduce it such as exercise or physiotherapy. Do not exaggerate when your doctor asks you to rate your pain. This reduces the risk of your doctor refilling prescriptions when you might not need it. This is one area that you are solely in control of, so you’ll need to be completely honest with your physician.

9. Know The Signs Of A Painkiller Addiction

Be aware of the symptoms of dependency and addiction

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Knowing the signs can help you recognize when you need to seek help. Educate your family and friends to recognize the signs as well. Symptoms of dependence or addiction include:

  • Developing tolerance to the medication
  • Suffering from withdrawal symptoms when stopping or reducing dosage
  • Going out of your way to find medication even when you know it is harmful

Addiction can be painful to deal with in any form, so any fear you may have concerning painkillers is perfectly normal. Surrounding yourself with supportive and attentive family and friends can help reduce the risk of addiction in the first place. Remember that most people who use painkillers do not get addicted. In fact, over 97% of those who use opioids don’t experience addiction.4 Use these tips to make sure that you’re not part of the remaining 3%.

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