Pain Management – Managing Pain and Addiction
We constantly hear stories about pain killer addiction. We hear about it so much that it has become a common fact that taking too many pain killers may get you addicted. But is that really a fact? Or is the term “addiction” just being used too loosely? To gain better understanding of the relationship between pain killers and addiction, several misconceptions should be clarified.
Firstly, everyone needs to know that a person can get addicted to pain killers. Secondly, taking an increasing dose of pain killers for a long time can result in addiction. And thirdly, addiction may arise as a necessary consequence of treatment.
Persons who have chronic disease often need to take pain medication to alleviate their suffering. Over time, a person may develop medication tolerance which means that the current dosage will not be as effective as it was before in reducing pain. When this happens, dosage will have to be increased to a degree that will make the medication effective again. With chronic pain, it is extremely difficult to determine whether the increasing need for larger doses of medication is triggered by increased pain or if it is just because of medication tolerance. It should be emphasized though that medication tolerance happens not only with pain killers but with other kinds of medication as well.
When the intake of medication is prescribed and monitored by a specialist, chances of patients getting addicted are slim. Doctors are always vigilant and will try to spot signs of addiction as early as possible. Increasing your dose without telling your doctor is one of the early signs of addiction. Another sign is when you start doing things you would not normally do just to get additional amounts of pain killer. When you start lying and scheming in order to obtain more pain killers, clearly, addiction has set in. But as long as your specialist keeps a close watch on you, your addiction will be remedied right away.
Addiction is one of the risks associated with pain killers. It is no different from the risk of getting side effects like liver damage and stomach bleeding from medication. A specialist is not only tasked to reduce or treat the pain alone. He is there to treat and manage every aspect associated with it. including effects of its treatment. A pain management specialist identifies possible unavoidable risks and it is his job to monitor and control these risks while the patient is being simultaneously treated for pain.
Unfortunately, others have no one looking out for them, especially those who are managing pain by themselves using over-the-counter. After medication tolerance sets in, they give themselves larger doses without even consulting a doctor. Constantly increasing the dosage as well as changing the dosage without a doctor’s advice are clear signs of addiction which must be managed as early as possible.