Modern medicine has created unparalleled opportunities for managing pain. While recovery from certain medical procedures used to be debilitating and almost unbearable, there are now a variety of treatments and medications that can help you deal with pain and get back on your feet.
However, many of these medications are derived from opioids, which can be addicting and dangerous if misused. If you have a history of addiction, you may be especially concerned about going on these potentially addictive substances. However, keeping some of these pointers in mind can help you use the medication you need responsibility and avoid further addiction, so you can best support your overall health.
Know what you need:
One of the most important guidelines in responsible pain management is to not go beyond, or below, what you need to get the pain at a manageable level. Your body naturally produces opiates and other neurotransmitters that bring down the level of pain it’s feeling. Painkiller medications only job is to amplify the body’s pain-relieving ability. Pumping too many opiates in the body will decrease the amount of natural painkillers the brain produces, ultimately making pain harder to handle.
The World Health Organization has created a three-tiered stepladder approach to help patients and doctors determine appropriate levels of pain-killing medication. As your pain increases from level 1, to 2, to 3, the healthcare provider moves from non-opiate painkillers, to stronger and stronger medication as needed, and then slowly moves down the ladder as the pain becomes more manageable. It is imperative that you be open with your doctor, and work with him or her to ensure the level of pain management is appropriate for your felt pain level. Responsible doctors will start with medication that is non-addictive and has fewer side-effects, only moving to risky opioids if nothing else works.
Although it can be difficult to admit, it is also important that you mention a struggle and concern with addiction to your doctor. There are a wide variety of medications and delivery systems that can deliver efficient pain relief with a lower risk of dependence and abuse. Your doctor needs to consider these factors in thinking which medication would be right for you.
Know when to stop:
When your house is on fire, water is generally one of the best tools to put the fire out. However, it would be extremely foolish to continue to pour water on your house after the fire is extinguished. In a similar way, painkillers should be a temporary solution, used alongside treating the deeper cause of your pain with physical therapy, surgery, and lifestyle changes until you feel better. Always follow the instructions of your doctor and pharmacist, never taking more than prescribed or using in an inappropriate manner.
Coming off the medication may produce some unpleasant withdrawal, including diarrhea, body aches, restlessness, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Iif taken at medically supervised levels, the withdraw should not last long or go beyond what you can handle. A gentle tapering off program can sometimes help manage the withdraw. Stopping the drug before the development of tolerance and dependence will ultimately be more bearable than a cycle of excessive use and more severe withdrawal.
Get help from others:
Counseling, as well as the caring and watchful eye of supportive friends, can help you in the midst of your treatment, to ensure you don’t go beyond the careful boundaries set by your healthcare provider. Another perspective can make sure you neither abuse the medication, nor use any other substance to self-medicate. The process of going through pain while also wanting to hold on to sobriety can be very stressful, but knowing that you are not alone can be a very important part of knowing you will make it through. There is hope. Neither pain nor addiction can hold you down or keep you from thriving.