The Risk of Addiction to Post-Surgery Pain Medications

After going through the ordeal and possibly the trauma of surgery, you face another tough battle. Pain is inevitable after most surgeries and the more extensive the surgery, the more severe and long-lasting the pain. Together with your doctor, you must come up with a plan for managing your pain after surgery. This is important, not just to make you more comfortable, but also to reduce your stress and promote healing. When pain is minimized, your body can focus on the healing process and you can recover more quickly. Unfortunately, many of the painkillers used to treat post-surgery pain put you at risk of developing an addiction.

Plan Ahead

If you are facing the prospect of an upcoming surgery, start thinking ahead of time about your pain management plan. Talk extensively with your doctor about how much pain you can expect to have and how long it will last. Knowing what to expect can go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable. You should also discuss the medications that you can expect to use after surgery for controlling your pain. Ask your doctor how they work, how long you should be taking them, and what the risks are for developing a painkiller addiction.

Now is the time to be very honest with your doctor. If you have ever struggled with addiction in the past, he or she needs to know. You doctor will have a few options when it comes to your prescriptions. If you have addiction issues, you can be given a medication that is less likely to create a dependence. Your doctor can also help you create a plan for managing your pain without developing an addiction.

The Risky Medications

Many of the most effective painkillers available are opioids. These are all medications that derive from the opium poppy and are related to highly addictive and dangerous recreational drugs like opium and heroin. Opioid drugs are excellent painkillers and can also treat diarrhea and cough. Unfortunately, they also give the user a euphoric feeling and the desire to keep using it. Over time, the user develops a tolerance to the drug and needs to use more and more to achieve the same euphoria. This often leads to addiction. Prescription opioids include morphine, codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and others.

When Addiction Develops

If you are using prescription painkillers to manage your post-surgery pain, be aware of the beginning of a developing addiction. It may not be easy for you to see the signs in yourself or to admit to them, so listen to what others have to say about your behaviors and actions. Take the concerns of your loved ones seriously. If you are craving your medication and using more than is recommended, you may be in danger of becoming addicted.

Continue to be in communication with your doctor and report any signs of craving or needing more medication. Talk to your doctor about your pain and if it worsens or does not improve with the medication you have been prescribed. When you are open about what is happening and what you are feeling and experiencing, it is easier for your doctor to intervene to lessen your pain and to minimize your addiction risk.

If you become accustomed to or addicted to your painkillers, you will need to be weaned off of them. This means reducing your intake gradually so that you avoid the sometimes severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Your doctor can give you a plan for slowly halting your use of prescription painkillers that will get you off slowly and safely.

Whatever you do, do not attempt to stop using your medications cold turkey. Do not attempt to stop using without your doctor's input and do not try to do this by yourself. Battling an addiction to a prescription opioid can be every bit as serious as facing an addiction to an illegal substance. Your withdrawal symptoms can be very troubling and your cravings severe. Accept the help and support of your friends and family to get you through this difficult period.

Once you are clean

When your pain is being managed or has gone away entirely, you will still carry the burden of your addiction. Knowing that you have the potential to become addicted is powerful information and you should use it wisely. If you are at risk of an addiction to painkillers, you are at risk of becoming addicted to other substances as well. Monitor your use of alcohol and other drugs and accept the advice of others. You have the power to prevent future dependences.

Posted on May 11th, 2012

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