Prescription painkiller addiction continues to be a major problem in America, yet it’s hard finding non-opioid pain relief options.
Opioid addiction is an issue that affects men, women, and teens; people of all ages and all walks of life. Prescription painkiller addiction can begin for a variety of reasons, such as young people experimenting with drugs, or drug addicts looking for a different kind of high.
Necessary Pain Relief
It’s a sensitive subject—the prescription painkiller epidemic—because many people legitimately need these drugs for pain relief, and we don’t want to keep people from getting the relief they need.
Among the most effective and the most commonly prescribed painkillers are opioid drugs like oxycodone, Vicodin, and fentanyl. These medications offer fast and long-lasting pain relief and are commonly used after surgery, illness, or injury. They are also extremely addictive.
Opiates are the family of drugs that heroin is a part of, derived from the Asian poppy plant. Just like heroin, prescription painkillers hamper the brain’s ability to produce its own dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. Opioids interact with the brain the same way, but do not come from the poppy plant, which is the main way to distinguish opioids from opiates.
Therefore, the individual who uses these drugs over an extended period of time, or uses more than they should, quickly feels cravings for the drugs and withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit.
Curbing Prescription Drug Abuse
The situation gets tricky when people need non-opioid pain relief, and yet don’t want to become dependent on the medications.
There are a few things that have happened in recent years that will help deter more people from overusing and abusing these medications:
- Prescription drug databases now help monitor a person’s prescription painkiller history.
- Doctors who overprescribe opiates are being investigated by the government.
- Better education and screening is available for patients who are on these medications.
These measures are helping keep prescriptions out of the wrong hands and helping those on the drugs to use them responsibly.
Non-Opioid Pain Relief Options
For those who have struggled with an addiction in the past, an injury or need for prescription opiates can put their recovery in jeopardy and cause them to relapse. There are other options besides opiates for pain management, and these should be considered in many of these instances.
Medications like buprenorphine or methadone, which are opioid replacement drugs, can offer some relief. Other non-opioid drugs, like anti-epileptic drugs and antidepressants, are also used for non-opioid pain relief.
If you are looking to avoid medications altogether to manage your pain, here are some ideas that might help you:
Exercise – It may seem like an overplayed concept, but a healthy amount of exercise is a great cure for all kinds of issues from obvious things like obesity and poor circulation to less-apparent things such as depression and even chronic pain relief.
Temperature changes – Using therapeutic temperature changes on painful areas can do wonders. To lower inflammation and decrease spasms, use ice packs to cool the area down. To relax tight and tense muscles, try a heating pad.
Physical Therapy – Having a trained professional help you work through certain beneficial exercises and movements can easily be the difference between success and failure when it comes to non-opioid pain management.
Acupuncture – As unattractive as the idea of sticking needles into your body might sound, acupuncture has a long history of being an effective way to manage pain. Experts say that acupuncture helps your body release endorphins and manages serotonin levels.
Clinical Therapy – Chronic pain can be debilitating and invade every aspect of your life. Seeing a therapist can help you better incorporate both your pain and your pain management techniques into your life. This doesn’t mean that the pain is just in your head, but it does give you an opportunity to address the effect that chronic pain has on you and those closest to you.
Yoga – Position-based exercise methods such as yoga and tai chi are designed to stretch your muscles, clear your mind, and give you more muscular and respiratory control over your body. Many people use these techniques to help them combat chronic pain.
However, in cases where opiates are necessary to provide the right level of relief, they should be used with caution. Doctors should closely monitor their patients for any sign of addiction, and patients should be fully educated about the risks of this type of medication. In all cases, you should take medication exactly as prescribed by your physician. Opioid dependence can easily become an addiction if not treated with care.
Are Prescription Drugs Causing the Opioid Epidemic?
There are many competing theories that attempt to explain why the overdose numbers have skyrocketed in recent years. One of these ideas is that prescribed opioids are the launching point for the majority of addictions that eventually lead to heroin and overdose.
It paints a picture of a person who gets injured and is irresponsibly placed on opioid pain management. When the prescription runs out, the person has no choice but to turn to street drugs such as heroin. This has led to policy changes such as Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and certain pharmacies refusing to fill more than a 7-day prescription.
Another argument is that opioid addiction mostly starts when someone takes prescription opioids that were not prescribed to them. So, from this perspective, the patients who are responsibly taking opioids for pain management do not make up the lion’s share of those with a heroin addiction.
In either case, opioids should be treated with extreme caution and only used when absolutely necessary. If non-opioid pain relief is an option for you, consider using the above list before moving forward with narcotics.
Struggling with Opioid Addiction? Get Treatment at Maryland House Detox
If you are addicted to prescription opiates, we can help. Our opiate rehab program helps people just like you put a stop to the dependence, and our sober community is the perfect place for you to learn how recovery can be fun and fulfilling. Contact Maryland House Detox at (888) 263-0631 or contact us online to learn more.