Every year, thousands of people die of painkiller overdose. Statistics shows that the addiction problem nowadays verges on an epidemic. But what makes people pop those pills long after they are pain-free?
Even though painkillers are usually prescribed for a good reason, they often get in the wrong hands. One in 20 is believed to have abused prescription drugs at least once, and this includes a very big number of people under the age of 18. Whatever the kind of misuse, the situation looks very grim and serious.
This makes it imperative to steer clear of risk factors regarding painkiller intake. So how can one avoid getting into the addiction trap in the first place?
It is difficult to draw a strict line between use and abuse when it comes to painkillers. That’s because pain is subjective and it is not always possible to judge whether a medication failed to help or the patient is lying in order to get a fix for their addiction.
Does your painkiller run out too quickly? Do you tell chemists that you lost your prescription? Or go to different doctors to ask for the only medicine that “works” for you? Do you borrow painkillers from neighbours and friends because you “forgot to buy” the previous day?
If you tend to do one or more of these, beware, because you might be going in the wrong direction with your back pain treatment.
Do You Still Need That Pill?
Chronic pain sufferers are long-term users of pain relief drugs. They take a pill whenever the discomfort gets too bad. Addicted users do not wait for the pain to occur. They need their fix even when it’s no longer there. Read more at Addictions.com.
While it is quite difficult to judge who is really in need of their painkiller and doctors often have to trust that their patients are telling the truth, there is usually circumstantial evidence that can give away a liar. Such as, a question about the quality of sleep, for example.
Since people who are in pain have difficulty getting a good night’s rest, if somebody has no problems in that area but at the same time claims to be experiencing extreme discomfort, they are probably looking to feed an addiction.
It might be extremely difficult to say no to a patient who may be addicted to painkillers. A way to do so without feeling guilty is by monitoring a patient’s visits to other physicians and even ask them to sign a document which obliges them not to go anywhere else while they are taking the prescription drugs. Regular urine tests are also a great way to discover whether everything is under control.
Some doctors ask their patients to fill out short surveys which could then help them identify how big is the individual risk of developing an addiction.These tests generally look to create a picture about the patient’s moods and behaviour at home, which could be telltale signs of addiction onset, or worse.
If you are worried about a family member becoming addicted, make sure you set strict rules about the period of use and dosage of the painkiller prescribed. Try to keep application short-term and convince the patient to discontinue the medication as soon as symptoms are gone.