Eliminating Pain Without Developing an Addiction to Painkillers
By Kia Wakefield
The number of people who find themselves addicted to painkillers is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States and many other nations. The painkiller addiction problem is not new, and is a growing concern among healthcare professionals and their patients. Many people know someone that is addicted to painkillers or are addicted to painkillers themselves.
Surprisingly, painkiller addiction isn’t just a problem among a particular age group or demographic. Painkiller addiction is an issue that affects people from all walks of life. Teens, adults and even seniors are prone to developing an addiction to painkillers.
Most painkiller addictions stem from treating arthritis, back pain or another common ailment. Having been legally prescribed medications by their healthcare provider, many patients finds themselves developing a dependency on the drugs, and experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms in their absence.
Of course no one takes drugs with the intention of becoming addicted; however, some medications have a high likelihood of being habit-forming. Most of the time people who end up addicted to painkillers simply wanted to ease suffering related to injuries, diseases or surgery.
Although there are numerous painkillers with addictive qualities, some of the most common are codeine, Vicodin, Oxycodone (OxyContin), Darvon, Demerol and Dilaudid.
Many of the most highly addictive prescription painkillers are contain chemicals call opioids. Opioids attach to the brain’s receptors and stimulate the pleasure center in the brain while simultaneously relieving pain. With prescription drugs, addiction can be both a psychological and a biological condition.
Over time, the body becomes dependent on the painkillers and can’t function properly without them. Although over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen are not as addictive as more powerful prescription pills, they can still become a problem if used excessively.
It’s not always chronic health issues that lead to the abuse of painkillers. Many painkillers are so strong and potent that some individuals become addicted to the drug after only short-term use. Also, many young people are engaging in the recreational abuse of painkillers – a particularly dangerous form of substance abuse that has been on the rise in recent years.
Each year, millions of people use prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported that twice as many people are addicted to prescription painkillers than to cocaine. Four million children between the ages of 12 and 19 have reportedly abused prescription painkillers to get high.
Thankfully, there are healthy alternatives to coping with chronic pain and overcoming addictions to prescription painkillers.
For example many patients who participate in massage therapy claim that the therapy is an effective way to reduce pain. If the chronic pain is due to inflammation, applying heat or cold therapy is a natural way to cope with the pain without prescription drugs. Some natural supplements can also be taken in lieu of prescription medications to manage pain effectively.
For patients with severe chronic pain, a residential treatment facility that specializes in pain may be necessary to help them learn to live with and better manage their pain. The Pain Management Program at Sierra Tucson, a treatment center in Arizona, offers an innovative and comprehensive mind-body approach for the treatment of chronic pain. The specialists at Sierra Tucson will determine the causes of any pain and create a personalized pain management treatment plan for each patient based on behavioral, lifestyle and emotional changes that can successfully decrease pain over time.
Before any pain patient decides to take a prescription painkiller, they should speak to their doctor about issues including natural remedies, lifestyle changes and the risk of addiction.
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