Take Charge of Your Health - Too Much of A Good Thing: Part 1 - Pain Medications
I used to think a drug addict was someone who lived on the far edges of society...
That is until I became one...
Our focus this month is on a few issues some have asked about that fall under the heading of "too much of a good thing." First up are Pain Medications, which are certainly in the news, followed by concerns about Repetitive Motion and Diet Misconceptions.
We all know that pain medications can be life savers, but it is important to watch out for dependence and their highly addictive quality. In fact, according to a recent article, "Prescription opioids are involved in 40% of all deaths from opioid overdose and are commonly the first opioid encountered by individuals with opioid use disorder." (S. Hadland, MD, A. Rivera-Aguirre, MPP, B. Marshall, PhD, JAMA 1/31/19)
According to the CDC, on average 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The most common opioids are prescription pain killers such as OxyContin and Vicodin, but the broad category also includes drugs such as heroin and fentanyl - a synthetic opioid which is about 100 times more potent than morphine. Powerful opioid painkillers block pain messages to your brain and decrease the body’s perception of discomfort. Opioids are typically used to treat pain after surgery, but along with pain relief comes serious risks.
Taking opioids at too high a dose or over too long a time period can lead to addiction, overdose and death. In fact, up to one in four people who take opioids long-term (i.e. longer than 4 weeks) become addicted to the high, euphoric feeling. Misuse includes people with a prescription who take more pills than prescribed and those without a prescription who take pills from family members or friends.
Pain management is a very important subject to discuss with your doctor. You may wish to ask about your alternatives to opioids such as: over -the-counter medications including acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen; acupuncture; counseling; meditation; and/or interventional therapies such as steroid injections.
If you are taking opioids, here are some things you can do to be sure you do so safely:
Develop a clear pain management plan with your doctor and follow it carefully
Have a family member hold your medication and provide to you only the dosage indicated by your doctor
Keep opioids properly stored so they can not be accessed by others, including children and pets
Avoid alcohol and sedatives when taking the prescribed opioid
Discard all extra pills once your treatment is complete.
Next Up (March 15) is our blog on Repetitive Motion injuries. As always, join us on the Health-E3 website blog page. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences. Check out our newest page on Personalized Care. Feel free to ask a question about anything on the website or suggest ideas for additional helpful information. And remember, it's up to you to Take Charge of Your Health.