Pain medications called opioids are highly effective at reducing instances of pain after medical treatment, surgical procedures, or other injuries. There are a number of types of opioids, and some of them carry a much higher risk of addiction than others. If you are using prescription or illegal forms of opioids, it’s essential to know the risks these drugs carry as they can be toxic and lead to overdose and death.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a classification of drugs that includes numerous different forms, such as:
- Synthetic opioids like fentanyl
- Pain relievers available through prescription, such as oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and hydrocodone
- Illegal forms such as heroin
Any drug in this classification can cause addiction and dependence. Each of these drugs are chemically related. They work in the same basic way to interact with the opioid receptors located on the nerve cells in the brain and throughout the body. These medications can help to disrupt the pain signals traveling from the body to the brain, which makes them critically important to use after a serious injury or illness in which pain is severe.
Taking medications as prescribed by your doctor is safe in most cases. However, misuse of these substances in any way, including taking them more often than prescribed, can lead to addiction. Additionally, continued use of opioids can lead to a life-threatening overdose. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states 46,802 people died from opioid-involved overdoses in 2018, and 49,860 died in 2019.
It is critical to know what’s happening to you and to seek out help as soon as possible if you believe you could be facing addiction to or dependence on some form of opioids.
Symptoms of Pain Medication Addiction
How do you know if you have an addiction to pain medications? Even if you just suspect it could occur, it’s best to speak to your doctor about what you’re feeling now. You can also reach out to our team for immediate help.
Some of the most common symptoms of addiction to pain medications include:
- Being preoccupied with when you’ll be able to take the next dose
- Needing to take more than the prescribed amount of the medication to get the same benefits
- Using medications that are not prescribed to you
- Feeling uneasy and unable to focus when you are not using the medication
- Experiencing pain and discomfort, emotionally and physically, when you stop using the substance
- Struggling to maintain relationships or complete tasks at work
- Seeking out more powerful opioids
- Using heroin
If you have any of these symptoms, seeking medical care is essential to protecting your life and health. Keep in mind that a person can experience addiction even if they are just taking pain medications as their doctor has prescribed, though this is less common.
Should You Take Opioid-Based Pain Medications?
Sometimes your doctor may recommend an opioid-based medication, especially for severe and short-term pain. For example, in a hospital after surgery, you may be given highly potent drugs like fentanyl to help with your pain.
It’s not uncommon for a person to receive a pain medication prescription when facing severe injuries or illnesses. You should follow your doctor’s recommendations for use and take it when you need it. However, consider a few other tips as well:
- If you’re worried about addiction risks, ask your doctor about non-addicting pain medications that could help you without the same level of risk.
- Seek out holistic pain relief as often as possible, including warm and cold compresses or other recommendations from your doctor.
- If you have used opioids in the past and believe you’ve developed an addiction to them, be open with your doctor about your history. Your doctor can offer alternatives.
If you are facing an opioid dependence or addiction, English Mountain Recovery in Sevierville, TN, can provide you with the help and support you need. Reach out to us to set up a consultation. Though opioids are addictive and dangerous, evidence-based treatments can help you to safely stop using without leading to intense pain or discomfort. Contact us today to learn more.