Opioid addiction is a growing concern for many people given its prevalence and risks. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 2.1 million Americans were addicted to prescription pain relievers in 2012, and there were nearly 207 million prescriptions written for opioids in 2013. While these drugs can be safe and effective when used as directed, the risk for addiction still exists as there are many contributing factors.
Before receiving a prescription for pain relievers, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about risk for addiction and any concerns you may have, especially if you are in recovery. Being honest and having open lines of communication can help you to make more informed decisions for your health and well-being.
Ask about addiction risk. Find out how potentially addictive the medication is and whether you are someone who is susceptible. Discuss the medication’s purpose and how it can be safely used. Make sure that you understand the warning signs that may indicate dependence or addiction. It can be a good idea to have a loved one with you so that you’re both aware of what to look for and how to safely take the medication. If you’re confused by your doctor’s instructions, ask for clarification. You can also ask the pharmacist.
Ask about alternatives. Are there other options before resorting to prescription pain relievers? Could discomfort be effectively controlled using and over-the-counter medication or topical analgesic instead or through more natural means? People respond differently to holistic methods for relieving pain, so you may want to try a few strategies to see how they work for you. Options to discuss with your doctor may include:
- Hot/Cold packs
- Physical therapy
- Deep breathing/meditation
- Essential oils
Talk to your doctors about strategies you’d like to explore and see if they have other recommendations. Prescription drugs do not have to be the first line of defense.
Follow directions. If opioid medications are the option you choose, talk through exactly how to take them as prescribed. Ask for the lowest dose necessary or a very short-term prescription to reduce risk. Make sure to store your prescription in a safe place so that it is out of the reach of children and others. Also, if your pain is under control, don’t take medication just because it’s available. Safely dispose of any leftovers to reduce temptation and keep them out of the wrong hands.
Never be afraid to ask questions – it is better to be proactive and upfront with your doctor about your concerns regarding addiction or relapse. If you do notice signs of addiction, speak up immediately and seek help. There are likely other options available, and early detection can help you get the treatment you need to prevent further problems.
Crossroads provides clients with comprehensive treatment to overcome addiction and embrace a lifestyle of recovery. Treatment programs are tailored to meet each client’s individual needs and provide the support necessary for recovery. Whether facing addiction for the first time or dealing with a relapse, Crossroads assists you along each step of the way.
[cta]Has your prescription drug use become problematic? Contact Crossroads today to get the help you need for addiction recovery.[/cta]