You've heard of the opioid epidemic. If it seems like the news stories seem to focus on heroin addiction, you aren't entirely wrong. Yes, heroin is a highly addictive opioid. And yes, heroin is a major problem for many Americans. But, it's not the only opioid. Opioid pain killers are addictive substances that are often misused and abused.
It's easy to think that an opioid pain medication is completely innocent and won't cause any problems. After all, it is something that your doctor prescribes. Maybe you had surgery, an accident, an injury or are in pain for some other reason. Your doc may very well hand you a prescription for an opioid. Your medical provider isn't giving you a green light to abuse an addictively substance. Instead, your doctor is trying to help you manage the pain. That said, when patients don't follow doctor's orders or continue to use the meds long after the pain is gone, problems arise.
Understanding how prescription pills fit into the opioid epidemic is the first step in realizing just how dangerous these drugs are. Whether your doctor recently prescribed pills for your pain, you've been taking an opioid for what might be too long or you suspect a friend or family member has an addiction, take a look at the need to know facts on these powerful meds.
Opioid Pain Meds
There are an array of pain medications available. From over the counter options such as NSAIDS (such as biotrophic) to prescription pills, you have choices. When it comes to opioids, you'll find some well-known names. Codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone and tramadol are common opioid prescription medications. These medications work by binding to receptors in the brain and blocking the pain signal.
These drugs are legal medications but should only be prescribed by a licensed medical provider. Most opioid pain pills are only taken from three to four months tops. Taking these for too long may lead to abuse and addiction.
Risks and Benefits
No doctor should treat opioids lightly. Even though there are obvious drawbacks to opioid use, many patients do find them beneficial. This class of drugs wasn't developed for recreational use. Instead, they were made to help with pain management – especially when nothing else will work.
Before prescribing an opioid medication, the doctor should talk to the patient extensively about how to use it and what the possible risks are. All opioid therapies should start with a specific goal in mind. This should include pain management and a plan to stop taking the pills in a reasonable time.
Keep in mind, in many cases a non-opioid medication was the first choice. Patients who don't respond to other meds, may need this powerful prescription to take away the pain that is lingering or getting in the way of daily life.
If every person who took an opioid pain pill used it correctly and responsibly, there won't be a problem. But that doesn't always happen. While this type of medication can help people in pain, it can also wreak havoc.
In the year 2015, 2 million people in the U.S. had some sort of prescription pill addiction, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. This is in comparison to the 591,000 who had heroin addictions.
Not only is addiction itself a problem, but the overdose and resulting death rates from prescription opioids are skyrocketing. More than 20,100 people overdosed in 2015 from prescription opioids. These might be startling numbers, but they're more than just statistics. They're people. People who could have been saved if they had gotten help. Even though prescription opioids are serious substances that can get a death-grip on the addict, help is available. Treatment programs make it possible for prescription pill abusers to break the addiction cycle, turn their lives around and save themselves from a fate that nobody deserves.
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction Cedar Grove Medical Associates can help. Contact a caring staff member at 615-459-6700 for more information on recovery.