When it comes to prescription painkiller addiction, there are a lot of myths and misperceptions. The inaccurate information being spread is often due to the complex nature of the conditions that can make people vulnerable to this form of substance abuse disorder.
To help make sense of it all, we’ve set out some common misconceptions around prescription painkiller addiction – and why they are not necessarily supported by scientific evidence. Read on as we explore seven prescription drug myths. Learn the absolute truth about opioid misuse and helpful information that puts things into proper perspective.
Common Myths About Prescription Drug Addiction
Myth #1 – Prescription Painkillers Are Not Addictive
Despite popular belief, it is a medical fact that prescription painkillers are indeed addictive. This fact has been verified time and time again by countless medical studies, demonstrating the often-overlooked reality of this highly addictive form of pain management. Unfortunately, many people underestimate the power of these drugs and believe there to be no risk associated with them. While some do not suffer from addiction due to their use of prescription painkillers, they can certainly become dependent on them in both physical and mental ways. With the potential for side effects, it’s wise to handle any form of long-term medication with care and caution. Understanding how it might affect your body is key!
Providing the best possible quality of life for patients is essential, and in some cases, that involves the prudent use of prescription painkillers. It’s important to remember that these medications can be highly effective at treating severe pain when prescribed by a qualified medical professional and used responsibly over a certain period of time. Regular doctor’s appointments become more critical to ensure patients don’t become addicted or dependent on the medications. Doctors should monitor patient progress closely. By taking a thoughtful and careful approach to prescribing painkillers, we can help treat painful conditions while reducing the risk of misuse.
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Myth #2 – Prescription Painkillers Are Only Addictive if You Take Them for a Long Time
The assertion that prescription painkillers are not addictive if taken for a short time is a myth. These medications, designed to treat chronic physical discomfort, can rapidly become addictive in as little as five days or less. It is essential to be aware that brief use of these drugs can lead to subtle but persistent cravings and physical dependency. Those suffering from pain should take extra caution when using prescription painkillers, as they may not be able to accurately gauge their risk of addiction until it is too late.
Myth #3 – Once You’re Addicted to Opioid Medications, There’s No Turning Back
Addition to prescription painkillers is a complex issue that carries a heavy stigma. The idea that “once an addict, always an addict” perpetuates feelings of hopelessness and self-judgment in those affected by addiction, often preventing individuals from seeking the help they need. This quote — albeit well-intended — is unfounded and entirely false. With proper guidance and treatment, people can recover from addiction to opioid medications and live lives free of addiction.
Downplaying the ability of an individual to recover from addiction by labeling them as an ‘addict’ is a pessimistic, unproductive approach to discussing addiction treatment. Instead, hope should be extended by focusing on the potential for lasting recovery when quality, science-based healthcare opportunities are available.
Instead of pre-conceived negative ideas, we should provide positive change and restore meaning in the lives of individuals suffering from addictive behaviors. Despite popular misconception, addiction to prescription painkillers is treatable with proper resources and dedication from both patients and professionals.
Myth #4 – Prescription Painkillers Are Not Dangerous Unless You Abuse Them
Despite the common myth that opioid medications are safe if used as prescribed, overuse and misuse of prescription drugs can have serious health ramifications. Patients may become dependent without being aware or intending to abuse them, leading to an escalation due to fear of withdrawal symptoms. In addition, it is important to note that opioids interact with other medications or medical conditions in potentially dangerous ways. Anyone on opioid medication should talk to their doctor before starting any other form of treatment or engaging in activities such as drinking alcohol or engaging in activities that require focus.
Opioids also suppress breathing and increase the likelihood of overdose if taken at too large a dose (or combined with substances like alcohol). Overdose symptoms include confusion, sleepiness, shallow breathing, and unconsciousness – all warranting prompt medical attention. Moreover, regular opioid use can lead to organ problems due to insufficient oxygenation within the body; specifically, issues affecting the brain and heart can develop over time.
Finally, taking opioids while pregnant has been associated with serious health risks, diabetes, and low birth weight amongst newborns; it is imperative that women considering pregnancy disclose their current medication list – including prescription drugs like opioids-to their doctor prior so they receive appropriate guidance throughout the pregnancy planning process.
Healthcare providers must work diligently in conveying the dangers associated with opioid use – this is key for preventing physical harm, financial distress, and social separations from loved ones.
Myth #5 – Drug Rehab Is the Only Option to Treat Opioid Use Disorder
Contrary to popular belief, there are many alternative options to treat addiction besides drug rehab. In fact, it’s important to recognize that traditional rehabilitation programs have their place – but they are by no means the only option. When it comes to treating addiction, a comprehensive approach is typically necessary for individuals to obtain the most effective results. Some of these alternative treatments include:
- Medically Assisted Detox: This process involves utilizing medical and psychological support throughout detoxification instead of relying solely on willpower and abstinence. Medications such as naltrexone (Vivitrol) can reduce cravings, making sustaining sobriety much more manageable. The side effects of opioid withdrawal without medical assistance can be highly challenging and sometimes even dangerous. Medical treatment is always preferred when treating prescription painkiller addiction.
- Psychotherapy: Another effective part of addiction treatment is psychotherapy, which focuses on helping individuals identify triggers to avoid them in the future. Learning how to cope with stressful situations is essential to minimize the chances of resorting to harmful addictive behaviors. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found particularly useful since it helps people understand their thought processes related to drug/alcohol use better while coaching them through learning healthier ways of responding when cravings arise. Depending on each person’s unique situation, these therapy sessions may be conducted via individual or group settings.
Ultimately, there are numerous avenues one could take if considering other options apart from going into rehab when battling prescription opioid use; however, we must remember that every case is unique and should always be treated accordingly under professional medical supervision wherever possible!
In summary, prescription painkiller addiction is a serious problem, and many misconceptions exist. By becoming more informed about the cause, risks, and treatment for prescription painkiller abuse, we can all help reduce the epidemic. Talk to your doctor if you have any prescription medication issues and don’t be afraid to seek help or advice.
We must join together to reduce the stigma around this issue to allow people who need help with addiction to receive it without judgment. Furthermore, we must understand the myths regarding painkiller addiction so as not to form an opinion of others from damaging stereotypes. Let us empower each other by introducing preventive strategies and helping to rebuild the lives of those affected by this serious problem. Through our collective effort, positive change will ensue for those suffering from prescription drug abuse on their recovery journey.
- KAISER PERMANENTE: Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment for Substance Use Disorder
- AMA Journal of Ethics: Common Misconceptions about Opioid Use for Pain Management at the End of Life
- Hospicare.com: Myths and Truths about Pain and Pain Medicine
- Texas Orthopaedic Associates: Five Common Myths About Chronic Pain
Reviewed by Clare Waismann, Registered Addiction Specialist (M-RAS), Substance Use Disorder Certified Counselor (SUDCC II), founder of Waismann Method® Advanced Treatment for Opiate Dependence and Domus Retreat®. Clare Waismann is an authority and expert on opioid dependence, opioid use disorder, substance dependence, detoxification treatments, detox recovery, and other topics covered on RapidDetox.com.