Updated: Jun 28
Painkiller abuse, especially the abuse of opioid painkillers, has become so prevalent over the last few years that it’s commonly referred to as the opioid crisis or epidemic. Since the 1990s, the number of deaths related to painkiller addiction has shot up alarmingly. Avoiding becoming addicted to painkillers can help you stay safe. So what should you do to protect yourself?
Follow Your Doctor’s Directions
Legally obtaining painkillers with a higher addiction risk requires a prescription from a healthcare professional. Once you have the prescribed medication, follow the dosage instructions to the letter. Take only as much as you are supposed to and only as frequently as you are supposed to.
Ask your doctor about alternatives to opiates, such as physical therapy and other pain management options. Seeking further diagnostic information about your condition can help you know more routes you can take, ranging from surgery to non-invasive treatments. In today’s medical world there are more treatments becoming available than ever before.
Recognize the Warning Signs
Anyone concerned about a painkiller addiction must know the warning signs of addiction. Watching for those warning signs can help identify a painkiller addiction before it spirals out of control. Running out of your prescription early is an easy indicator to spot.
Taking painkillers from others (especially prescription painkillers) or lying to doctors about your pain are also indicative of a forming addiction. Using multiple doctors to get additional prescriptions is illegal and a sign of addiction.
Check In with Yourself
Painkillers are meant to control your pain and keep you comfortable so you can avoid (or at least minimize) disruptions to your life, especially if you’re healing. You shouldn’t need to stay on them forever though. Check in with yourself periodically. Do you really still need the painkillers? If you aren’t in pain, stop taking them. If you can control your pain with a less addictive medication, making the switch can also help protect you from becoming addicted. Once you’ve decided you don’t need your prescription painkillers anymore, dispose of them safely. That will keep you and everyone else in your home safe from abusing them.
The good news is that most people can take painkillers without becoming addicted. In fact, the percentage of people who become addicted compared to those who don’t is quite small–around 3%. Still, it’s important to reduce your risk of getting addicted to painkillers so you can safely get the comfort care you need.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Here’s more to read: Why Mental Health Treatment Should Be About More Than Medication