Taking narcotics for chronic pain can be risky, which is why it’s imperative that patients follow their prescription and report any adverse side effects.
Can Taking Narcotics for Chronic Pain Lead to Addiction?
Some individuals do need to take narcotics in order to treat their chronic pain. However, this can sometimes lead to certain issues, especially if the individual begins to abuse their medication. If you are experiencing problems with chronic pain and addiction to opioids, seek help today by calling (800) 407-7195.
Chronic Pain Treatment and Its Issues
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Healthcare providers have long wrestled with how best to treat patients who suffer from chronic pain, roughly 116 million in this country.” Unfortunately, there are many problems associated with treating this condition, especially when it is treated with a narcotic.
- Addiction is a possible effect of treating chronic pain issues with narcotics. Some individuals do abuse their medication and experience this issue. However, it is difficult to be certain how often this occurs, as estimates of those who do become addicted vary from 3 percent to 40 percent.
- Doctors are often hesitant to treat patients suffering from chronic pain with a narcotic. Patients themselves sometimes refuse the treatment as well, whether it is because they are concerned about addiction or another possible side effect like constipation, nausea, etc.
- Taking narcotics for a long period of time usually isn’t recommended. According to the National Library of Medicine, “You should not use a narcotic drug for more than 3 to 4 months, unless you are under direct care of your provider.” Those with chronic issues, however, are unlikely to stop taking this medication so soon after they start it.
How Does Chronic Pain Lead to Narcotic Addiction?
As stated above, anyone who is taking narcotics to treat a chronic pain issue and who abuses the drug is likely to become addicted. There are many safeguards put into place to ensure this doesn’t happen, but it is impossible for an individual to be watched at all times. But how and why do people taking the medication as prescribed sometimes become addicts?
- Over time, a person’s tolerance for the drug will grow higher and they will not be able to experience the same effects they once did from the same dosage. Sometimes, these individuals begin taking higher doses of the drug without telling their doctors. This is abuse, and it can lead to addiction.
- Another issue can occur with the fact that taking opioids over a long period of time can actually make someone more sensitive to pain. In order to treat their discomfort, which has become worse, some individuals turn to substance abuse.
- If the doctor and patient are not constantly working together to treat the pain but also battle any tendency toward abuse, it is easy to slip. This is why it is so important for both parties to take the prescription seriously and for the patient to be honest with the doctor about what they are feeling.
Of course, some individuals take narcotics for chronic pain without experiencing any issues with abuse or addiction. But the longer someone stays on these drugs, the more problems and side effects that are likely to arise and increase the individual’s chances of experiencing these issues.
How Can I Avoid Addiction When Taking Narcotics for Chronic Pain?
According to the NIDA, “Scientists debate the appropriateness of chronic opioid use for these conditions in light of the fact that long-term studies demonstrating that the benefits outweigh the risks have not been conducted.”
However, in many cases, treatment with narcotics is still the only option for a large number of individuals living with chronic pain. So it is important to do all you can to avoid addiction if you are taking these drugs for this particular situation.
Make sure to always talk to your doctor about any side effects you experience and to never stray from your prescription. If you believe you are becoming tolerant to opioids, it is important to ask your doctor for help, and the two of you can decide together if it is safe to put you on a higher dosage or if you will need to stop taking the medication entirely.
Are You Abusing Your Opioid Medication?