Prescription drug addiction is an increasing problem in the United States. Yet, a primary cause of this increase is not often discussed. It’s an under reported fact that many addictions to painkillers develop post-surgery in patients who unintentionally develop a dependency while trying to manage their post-op pain.
Prescription Painkillers Leading to Addiction
In a study of prescription drug abuse conducted at the University of Buffalo, 31 out of 75 patients entering an opiate addiction detox clinic first developed their addiction from a prescription that was given to them for pain management. Over 90 percent of these individuals went on to buy illegal drugs once their addiction took hold. The shift from prescription medications to street drugs was almost always fueled by the fact that there was greater accessibility of street drugs.
Interestingly, the majority of these patients were prescribed painkillers by doctors who didn’t ask if they had any history of substance abuse. The reality is the risk of becoming addicted to painkillers following a surgery is high, particularly for individuals who have had prior addiction problems. It’s also a fact that there is a lack of preventative education, and many doctors do not go far enough in protecting their patients from the risks of prescription drug abuse.
Prevention Is Essential
Although many people safely use painkillers following surgery with no problem, everyone should be aware of the potential risks and know how to minimize their chances of potential addiction.
Steps to Take to Avoid Addiction to Painkillers After Surgery
First, it’s important to never use the medication in any way other than what is specifically prescribed. If pain is increasing, don’t be tempted to just use more of the medication. Pain management needs to be discussed with your healthcare provider to determine the best strategies of addressing it.
When pain begins to subside, stay in communication with your doctor as you stop using the medication or if you are considering switching to something else to manage pain. If you begin to feel withdrawal symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away. This could be an indicator that you’re experiencing some of the first symptoms of addiction.
If you have experienced any type of addiction in the past, talk honestly with your doctor before surgery. There are alternatives to opioids available for pain management. Remember – both you and your doctor are responsible in minimizing the risk of acquiring an addiction to painkillers following surgery.
Do You Need Help For a Prescription Painkiller Addiction?
Are you or a loved one struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers? This isn’t something to hide or to feel shameful about. Yet, it is something that requires professional treatment.