Opioids are synthetic compounds that share similarities with the opiate class of drug, which is a controlled substance in most countries around the world. While the pain-killing effects of opioids make them a useful tool for managing physical discomfort, even people with a valid prescription can run the risk of developing addiction or eventually misusing them. As of 2016, an estimated 11.5 million people in the US misused prescription opioids at some point in their lives and 2.1 million misused them for the first time in 2016, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Follow the Doctor’s Instructions
Many cases of opioid misuse stem from patients not following instructions regarding their medication. It’s possible for painkillers to lose some of their effect through repeated use, which can tempt patients to start taking more than their normal dose. All changes in amount and frequency of doses should be approved by a licensed physician. It’s also important to following other dosing instructions, like taking medication with food or at certain times of day, if relevant.
Try Alternative Pain Management Strategies
Even though opioids and opiate compounds are extremely effective at curbing pain, the potential for addiction and misuse can also make them dangerous. There are a wide variety of alternative pain therapies available depending on the severity and cause of discomfort. Physical therapy and rehabilitation can greatly improve quality of life without medication, and there are numerous non-addictive and holistic pain therapies available as well.
Talk to a Therapist or Support Group
People suffering from chronic pain face a higher risk of opioid addiction than the average person, especially since their long-term health condition can be limiting and isolating. Finding a personal therapist or dedicated support group can be a powerful proactive measure to take against addiction. Even people who are currently using opioids exactly as prescribed may benefit from discussing their situation with others.
Maintain Exercise and Balanced Diet
Consistent exercise and a healthy, well-balanced diet are essential for maintaining good physical and mental health. While patients have to take care not to aggravate an existing health condition, like joint pain or muscle damage, there are many types of remedial exercises appropriate for people of all ages and ability levels. Adults should also work with their doctor to design a balanced diet that includes all the essential nutrients needed for a healthy lifestyle.
The cultural stigma about opiate and opioid addiction can discourage people from discussing the problem or seeking help when it arises. However, there are options for effective opioid withdrawal treatment that can provide significant relief from some of the worst side-effects of quitting these substances. Despite short-term discomfort, the long-term benefits of overcoming addiction are well-worth it for those who are willing to push themselves towards a better life.
By Hannah Whittenly
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