It’s no secret that America has a drug problem — and prescription drugs are part of that problem. High-powered painkillers known as opioids, like Oxycontin and Vicodin, have been the root cause of addiction for many people.
Trouble tends to follow addiction. People who start out on their own legal prescription medication and end up addicted can find themselves acting in uncharacteristic ways — and violating the law — in order to get their next fix. Addiction to prescription drugs has led to things like doctor shopping, stealing prescription pads, buying other people’s medication and the use of street drugs. Prescription drugs can be physically dangerous as well as legally. Half of all overdose deaths from opioids are due to prescriptions.
Is it even worth the risk of addiction to get the relief from opiate painkillers? Absolutely. If you need pain relief, it’s important to get it. Just follow the following advice from experts on how to stay safe:
1. Take your pain medication as prescribed.
If you take pain medication exactly as prescribed, you’re far less likely to get addicted. Those instructions on the bottle are there for a reason — use them.
Skimping on the drugs and trying to take them only once you can’t stand the pain any longer is a bad idea. That trains your brain to associate the euphoria of relief with the drugs. A steady approach is better than a sporadic one.
2. Stop taking them if you notice a sense of euphoria.
When you’re using medication to treat serious pain, you feel relief — but it’s unlikely you’ll feel a strong sense of euphoria. If you start to feel euphoric, it’s a sign you no longer need the pain medication.
3. Get rid of old prescriptions.
You don’t need to keep those old half-filled bottles of painkillers around. That makes it far too easy to give into the temptation to take them to relieve somewhat less-than-serious pain — which is the first step toward addiction.
Ultimately, if you’re concerned that you’re developing an addiction, you should discuss the issue with your doctor as soon as possible. Treatment is possible — and it’s far better to go into treatment than it is to end up in jail after you’d done something desperate to get your next fix.