There are a wide variety of medications available, and they are often life-saving. Advances in medicine are allowing people to live longer and fuller lives than ever before. However, there are also dangers to some medications. In particular, opioid painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants can sometimes be addictive, and dangerous if misused.
People may find themselves taking the drug when they don’t really need it in ways that could be extremely harmful. If you do have a serious medical condition, you may have some concern about becoming addicted to your medication. However, if you are able to follow these steps, and stay informed and intelligent about the drugs you are taking and their effect on you, you can avoid the pitfalls of addiction.
1) Open communication with your doctor
Your doctor is aware of a wide variety of solutions to your health problem, and it can sometimes be hard to pick out which is the right one for you. You can help him or her by giving as much information about your condition as possible. Make sure your doctor has an accurate understanding of the signs and symptoms you are facing.
Tell him or her about any other medications, herbs or supplements, or over the counter medicine that you are taking, as well as drug or alcohol use that could impact the way a possible drug interacts in your body. If you are concerned about addiction, ask about alternatives with lower potential for abuse, or extended-release versions. By being as clear as possible, you make it possible for your doctor to find the best treatment plan possible, and understand what effects the drug will have so you can be prepared.
If you know someone else with a similar condition as you, do not borrow medications, since two people may have different reactions to the same medicine. Taking medication under medical supervision is the only clear way to avoid addiction or overdose.
2) Always follow your doctor’s instructions
Your medication will come with specific instructions of how to take it and how often, and it’s important to follow these instructions on a regular basis. Stopping, increasing, decreasing a medication can sometimes have unpleasant side-effects or put your health at risk, so talk to your doctor instead of making these decisions on your own. Needing a higher dosage does not necessarily mean you have problem with addiction, so if you feel like a medication isn’t helping or doing enough, ask your doctor about what you can do, so that if you do take a higher dosage, your response can be carefully monitored and observed.
3) Find other ways to be healthy and treat the pain
No pill is supposed to be a panacea that can totally cure your health problems by itself. Medication should always be properly understood as only part of a healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating, a pattern of regular sleep and rest when you need it, and some restorative physical activity can all be ways to help manage your pain or disease, alongside medication. Meditation, mindfulness, and physical therapy can also be good ways at helping you manage your pain. By being open to these important lifestyle changes, you may one day find you may not need the medication any more, and your health care provider can help you taper off safely.
4) Know the signs of addiction
Closely monitoring your own response to the drugs you are taking is an essential part of avoiding the pitfalls of an addictive habit. If you find yourself feeling excessively high, out of it, amped up or worn out, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible and express your concern. If you find the drug is interfering with other parts of your life, you should likewise talk about switching to an alternate medication. A central warning sign you may be addicted is if you find yourself obsessed, thinking about taking the drug or having it in your system as much as possible, or consider lying to your doctor to get more. If you see yourself slipping into these warning signs, be as open to your doctor as you can.
5) When you’re done, throw unused medication out
Once you and your doctor have decided the medication is compete and run its course, stop taking it. Unused drugs lying around present a danger for misuse, by yourself or someone else. Some pharmacies offer a drug buy-back program, where you can give back unused medication and have them dispose of it safely. Check your label and see what the disposal instructions are, and get the now unnecessary medication out of your house.
Taking these steps can help you proceed with caution, so that you can enjoy the benefit of needed medications without the dangers of addiction. In this way, you can help your doctor maintain your health instead of causing new problems of addiction. If you do find your use of prescription drugs is going beyond your doctor’s instructions, and have a hard time stopping, do not hesitate to contact a supportive person who can start your recovery today.