Individuals suffering with chronic pain issues who have been prescribed opioid painkillers to help them manage the pain may have concerns as to whether their chronic pain will lead to drug addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are more than 116 million people in the U.S. that have chronic pain and many of them are afraid to take prescription pain medicines for the same reason: fear of addiction.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than the time usually required to heal from an injury or an intractable pain from an illness or condition which fail to respond to typical pain management. Chronic pain may last several months or more and is frequent or constant. As a general rule, opioid narcotics should be the last resort to manage the pain, but sadly, it is often the first method of management chosen by doctors.
There are dangers associated with prescription opioids such as Vicodin, Demerol, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, as well as others for pain management, especially for chronic and reoccurring pain. Opioids are effective painkillers. They work by affecting the brain and central nervous system by blocking the opioid receptor sites (antagonists) or activating the opioid receptor sites (agonists) that allow the body to experience pain and pleasure. When someone takes opioid pain medications, rather than feel pain, they may experience euphoria (feeling happy), an analgesic effect (freedom from pain), or a sedative effect (feeling sleepy) among others.
Long term use of opioid pain medications may cause the individual to develop a physical tolerance to the drug. When a tolerance develops, it means that it will require more of the drug to relieve your pain and to create the same euphoric or other effects as before. Most chronic pain sufferers will self medicate and increase the dose. There are 2 major problems with self medication: it could lead to dependency and it could lead to drug overdose. In addition to self medication by increasing the amount of the painkiller taken, some individuals mix their opioid pain medications with other drugs or alcohol to increase the desired effect, increase the length of time the desired effect lasts, or both. This mixing of alcohol and drugs is dangerous and can be fatal.
Some people with chronic pain issues try the services of a pain management clinic or specialist to help them address the pain by formulating a plan of care which may or may not involve narcotics and other prescription pain killers. Pain management centers and specialists try to offer alternatives to chronic pain sufferers including the use of biofeedback, TENs Units and other alternative therapies and supports. Often this route is fraught with trial and error as different methods are used to achieve relief. Some may work for a time and then be useless. Others may need time to determine if they are effective and this approach can be frustrating to someone experiencing chronic pain.
For patients that have developed a dependency to an opioid pain medication, the pain management clinic will detox the patient by using a tapering off method from the medication. While the patient is going through the detox process the pain management clinic looks for a different pain management method for the patient.
If you are struggling with chronic pain and you have an opioid dependency it may be necessary for you to seek medically assisted detox. Residential medical detox usually lasts 7 to 10 days and during the process you will be given medication to help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. When the detox is complete, you will be opioid free.
It's important to understand that living with chronic pain does not always lead to drug addiction. There are many people everyday who successfully start to take prescription pain killers due to an injury, car accident or chronic pain, and never become addicted. If taken properly, there is no need to fear becoming addicted to pills that can help you function. Saint Jude Retreats can help you understand this concept better. We know that it is possible to stop using a drug heavily and live the life you desire. If you need help, Saint Jude Retreats will get you started in the right direction. Call 888.424.2626 and speak to one of our caring Guest Services Representatives for further information.