PAIN PILLS... COULD YOU GET HOOKED?

No one wakes up one morning and declares, “This is the day I will become an addict!” No, addiction is much subtler than that. It’s a problem that creeps in slowly but with a force that can become debilitating. OHC would like to help you become more aware of the struggle of addiction so that you don’t become its next victim.


Researchers at the University of Arkansas analyzed the health records of about 1.3 million adults who were prescribed opioids between 2006 and 2015. Results showed that only about one in 20 people who took prescription painkillers for just three days were still on the drugs a year later. "But after that three-day mark, it was surprising how quickly the risk of becoming a chronic opioid user started to rise," says lead author Bradley Martin, Pharm.D., Ph.D., head of the division of pharmaceutical evaluation and policy at the University of Arkansas. About 15 percent of people who take prescription painkillers for a week are still taking them a year later, according to the study findings. At two weeks, that number jumps to more than 25 percent. And one out of three people who take these meds for a month wind up becoming long-term users.[i]

YOU RELY ON PILLS FOR RELAXATION Unless you practice non-drug pain management techniques, such as yoga or meditation, you are likely to tense up when you feel pain. Because many painkillers, such as Demerol, induce physical relaxation, they can provide welcome relief from tension. After a while, patients rely on painkillers to provide this relief.[ii] YOUR STILL TAKING PILLS AFTER THE PAIN HAS GONE AWAY You probably started taking pain medication because something hurt. If you’re still using narcotic painkillers long after the pain should have gone away, Schrank says it is time to ask for help. Maybe you’re taking them because you like the way they make you feel, instead of to relieve pain. Or maybe you’ve started to have physical cravings. Both are signs of an issue. Pain medication is intended to bridge a gap or get you through a rough patch,” Schrank says. “It’s not really meant to be a way to maintain or manage chronic pain.”[iii] YOU REACH FOR THE PILLS MORE OFTEN THAN IS SAFE Because painkillers work well with little effort, they are frequently the first choice for pain management. Rather than exploring alternative pain management techniques, which take effort and may not eliminate pain to the same extent as the painkillers, patients reach for the pill bottle. The ease of use and their effectiveness may lead some to reach for the drugs more often than is safe or necessary.[iv]

[i] One Way to Avoid Getting Hooked on Prescription Painkillers, Teresa Carr, accessed 22 August 2019, <https://www.consumerreports.org/prescription-drugs/prescription-painkillers/> [ii] Is Your Prescription Pain Killer Use A Problem?, Elizabeth Hartney, PhD., accessed 22 August 2019, <https://www.verywellmind.com/how-painkiller-addiction-or-overuse-happens-22507> [iii] Painkillers: 7 Warning Signs of Addiction, Melinda Ratini, DO, MS, accessed 22 August 2019, https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/painkiller-addiction-warning-signs#3> [iv] Is Your Prescription Pain Killer Use A Problem?, Elizabeth Hartney, PhD., accessed 22 August 2019, <https://www.verywellmind.com/how-painkiller-addiction-or-overuse-happens-22507>

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