It is natural to worry about the long-term effects that come with taking medication. More particularly, opioid medication is somewhat along – what people describe as ‘dangerous’ territory. While the fear is entirely rational, one should still be aware of basic knowledge regarding the issue and critical factors concerning the medication. For instance, how commonly do medicines cause addiction? What kind of people are most likely to develop such an addiction?
Today, health specialists at health2delivery will answer these questions and provide more vital information and facts.
Relation Between Dependence, Addiction and Pain Medication
As we all know, the potential for becoming dependent on pain medications is not that high. Meaning not every person who takes pain medicine is bound to get hooked on them. There is a stark difference between being dependent on pain medication and being an addict. However, due to the blurring line between the difference, many fear becoming addicted to pain medication which causes them to avoid it at all costs.
Although dependence on pain medication is a tragic side effect of opioid pain medication, it is not the same as an addiction. In some cases, physicians prescribe pain medications for a legitimate matter, and patients use the prescribed medication appropriately. Yet, they still develop a physical dependence that ends up requiring an intervention once the drugs are no longer needed.
Furthermore, comprehending the exact difference is vital. A misinterpretation of a patient’s condition causes unnecessary pain for the patient, their families, and healthcare providers.
Impact of Opioid
Most pain medication addictions occur due to opioid drugs being present in them. Simply put, opioids hook to the opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord as well as other parts of the body. As a result, the drugs become responsible for interfering with the communication of pain notices to the brain. This causes the brain to reduce feelings of pain. Opioids are used to treat moderate to severe pain. For instance, to manage the pain of cancer.
Opioid pain medication like fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, OxyContin, and Dilaudid consists of a withdrawal phase. As a result, patients who take opioids experience physical withdrawals. However, it is not an indication of an addict. Only 15 percent of opioid pain medication users end up addicted.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be a lot to deal with. The physical symptoms can last up to a whole month, disrupting one’s everyday routine. The symptoms include:
- Muscle Aches
- Rhinitis or Runny Nose
- High Blood Pressure
- Dilated Pupils
- Fast Heart Rate
- Abdominal Cramps
- Nausea and Vomiting
The withdrawal symptoms from opioid medications can be excruciating, but they are not life-threatening. Most of the time, doctors prescribe different medications or treatments to treat uncomfortable withdrawals such as anxiety, cramping, diarrhea as well as other symptoms.
How to Avoid Dependence?
Physicians are well-versed on how to avoid opioid withdrawal symptoms. Any physician that prescribes opioids usually attempts to keep the symptoms at a minimum by gradually decreasing the patient’s dosage of opioids until it reaches zero. This can prevent severe withdrawal symptoms and even potential addictions. Once withdrawal symptoms pass, which could take several days, the person is free of physical drug dependence.
Tolerance Towards Opioids
Although some people like to spread misinformation regarding dependence and physical withdrawal symptoms, the claims that the body’s reaction to opioid medications is correlated with mental weakness, lack of willpower, or lack of character is wildly inaccurate. Like several other drugs, patients develop a kind of tolerance towards opioid pain medication over time. That is why they might require a higher dose than usual to acquire an identical effect.
Moreover, patients who take opioid pain medication may also develop a condition known as opioid-induced hyperalgesia. This is when pain medications produce higher pain levels instead of alleviating them. In addition to this, patients who suffer from opioid-induced hyperalgesia may even encounter heightened sensitiveness to painful and – sometimes, non-painful stimuli. However, this condition tends to disappear when physicians wean the patient off the opioids.
Pain Medicine Can Be Addictive: Two Kinds of Patients
So, can pain medicine be addictive? Yes, and no. It all comes down to the type of patient one is dealing with. You see, the majority of opioid users can stop the intake of the drug when appropriate or when asked to. This would lead to a lack of total interest in the drug. However, a different kind of patient, an addict, does not possess such willpower. They will continue to crave and obsess over the drug even once the pain and necessity for the drug has subsided. This is the main distinction between the two types of patients. While both went through the same experience with the drug, one can cut it off, and the other can not.