Anyone living with chronic pain just wants effective relief. While there are many prescription drug options for pain management, some come with a downside: abuse potential. Even when people take their medication as directed, there’s still the possibility that they’ll grow dependent on the drug. If you’re unaware of your options for managing pain, see how you can find relief without falling into substance abuse.

The Rise in Unlikely Abusers

Man with back pain in need of pain managementVery few people think about addiction when they start taking prescription medication. They believe that if they follow their doctor’s instructions, they should have no problem managing their pain. The likelihood of getting hooked on painkillers doesn’t even occur to them.

And yet, this is something that happens to millions of Americans.

Opioids are routinely used for pain management because they’re effective. However, they also come with high abuse potential. Users sometimes grow dependent on the euphoric feelings these medications produce. So they continue taking these drugs after they don’t need them anymore. Over time, they develop an addiction.

The Connection Between Pain Management and Addiction

In many cases, a person’s physician plays a major role in providing adequate pain management while keeping in mind the risk of abuse. This is especially true for doctors who prescribe opioid medications. Many of these drugs are best for short-term use. But that doesn’t stop some people from trying to use them over a longer term.

They may begin “doctor shopping.” When their original physician no longer prescribes their pain relievers, they may look for other doctors. Some people resort to heroin abuse and other street drugs because it’s cheaper and easier to get.

Certain behaviors may indicate addiction, including:

  • Taking painkillers for other purposes, such as relieving anxiety or getting high
  • Using other drugs with painkillers, often to increase the effects
  • Not being interested in drug-free pain management options
  • Taking higher or more frequent doses than prescribed
  • Running out of medication sooner than you should or reporting your medicine lost/stolen

Effective pain management treatment must take into account ways to treat chronic pain issues while weighing it with the risks of addiction.

What’s Involved in Pain Management Treatment?

When providing pain management, professionals may use a variety of techniques. Not everyone requires medication to relieve pain.

For example, pain management treatment may involve a holistic option like acupuncture. Sufferers may also take part in physical therapy or injections. Additionally, some high-tech methods provide pain relief. These include radio waves, spinal cord stimulation and pain pumps.

People looking for the most natural ways to relieve pain may look to dietary supplements or consider a change in their diet. However, it’s still important to discuss any supplements you want to take — natural or otherwise — with your doctor. You don’t want medications negatively interacting with one another.

Massage, chiropractic treatments, and even psychological therapy are other pain relieving techniques.

By talking to your doctor, you may find some options that don’t rely on medication at all. You can also try non-opioid drugs that relieve pain without having the dangerous abuse potential other medications might have.

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