There’s been a sharp increase in the past decade of cases of addictionstemming from prescription pain medications, giving opioid pain management a bad name. It’s true that these drugs are addictive, especially when used other than they we prescribed, but they still serve a purpose.
Using prescription opioids to manage post-surgery pain, when recovering from an injury, and to manage some types of chronic pain is an invaluable medical tool, but you have to be careful to not let the bad outweigh the good. Those who are recovering from an opioid addiction are at especially high risk for developing an addiction to prescription pain medication, and it’s recommended that they seek other forms of pain management in the place of opioids.
For those who have to use prescription medications to manage pain, such as after a surgery, there are safeguards that can prevent things from getting out of hand.
Choosing the Right Doctor
A lot of the risk of prescription drug addiction can be mitigated by choosing the right doctor to manage your case. Some of the characteristics to look for when choosing a pain management doctor include:
· Being open to and well-educated on alternative methods of pain management. Doctors at academic medical centers tend to have more resources in this area, so start your search there.
· The doctor is open to more closely monitored prescription practices, such as very limited doses, or giving a family member control over the medication.
· The doctor requires regular testing to maintain an opioid prescription in order to detect abuse.
Finding a doctor who meets these requirements before going on the medication will help you to stay in check during the course of your prescription.
Treating the Whole Person
Opioid pain management is not the only option for those who are in pain, and for many people, it’s not even the best option. There are other methods of pain management that may be more effective at relieving pain, depending on what the cause is.
Other medications, such as anti-inflammatories may be more effective in many cases. Meditation, massage, physical therapy, and other forms of treatment can successfully manage pain. Even if other methods don’t completely eliminate pain, they may reduce it enough to allow you to go without opioids, or enough to allow you to use only a low dose of pain medication.
In addition to other forms of pain treatment, psychological counseling and treatments have been shown to be very successful in pain management as well. Treating the whole person, and not just their pain, reduces the risk of addiction.
Patients who are held strictly accountable by their doctor for their pain management routine are less likely to abuse their prescription medications. One way that doctors can hold patients accountable is by having them sign a contract upon receiving their prescription. The contract usually states that the patient will only use the medication as prescribed, will submit to regular testing, and will only receive prescriptions from one doctor and one pharmacy. Increased accountability will help to keep a patient safe until they can discontinue their use of pain medication.
Joey Holub was the first resident and graduate of Shadow Mountain Recovery. Now over 5 1/2 years sober, he can relate firsthand to the feelings every addict faces during recovery. The day Joey decided to commit to his own recovery is the most important day in his life. Joey now lives in Denver, CO, is very active in the recovery community, working closely with others to assist them in their own drug and alcohol addiction recovery.