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The Truth About Opioids: How To Turn The Tide On Addiction
Understanding the purpose, dangers, and the side effects of any drug is critical before beginning treatment. Such as the case with opioids, a group of drugs commonly used to treat pain and relieve suffering. As these drugs become more and more commonly prescribed — and abused — it's important to arm yourself with a strong understanding of what they are, what they do, and how to manage their use before putting yourself at risk of addiction or overdose.
According to a recent piece from Turn The Tide Rx, "Opioids are drugs that work by reducing the intensity of pain signals that reach your brain. These drugs can be helpful for a short time but they have serious risks. Up to 1 out of 4 people receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with addiction."
This alarming statistic warrants a closer look at the drugs themselves, and their alternatives, before beginning treatment. Commonly prescribed opioids include Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Codeine, Morphine, and Fentanyl, and while all of these can be an important part of pain treatment in some circumstances, their short-term benefits must be weighed against the lack of scientific evidence that opioids are the best prescription pathway to properly treat chronic pain.
The more serious risks of using opioids are addiction and overdose. Addiction to these drugs can destroy careers, families, and lives. Overdosing on opioids can even happen by accident due to their effect on the part of the brain that regulates breathing, especially when combined with alcohol or sedative medicines. These types of chemical mixtures are often present in fatal overdoses.
These drugs also come with dangerous side effects including nausea, vomiting, constipation, sleepiness, dizziness, confusion, and increased sensitivity to pain.
Because of these dangers, many seek alternative pain treatments to opioids. And if you are prescribed opioids, you should be careful to manage your pain in a way that keeps you safe. Start with a low dosage and go slow, remembering to never take opioids in greater amounts than prescribed. Avoid taking opioids with alcohol or mixing with any other sedatives, muscle relaxers, sleeping pills or other prescription pain relievers. Be sure to follow up regularly with your doctor, especially if you are taking opioids long-term.
Most importantly, remember that help is only a phone call away. If you or someone you love is in danger of misusing or abusing opioids call your doctor immediately or contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's treatment help line at (800) 662-HELP. If you are a music person in need of help, please call MusiCares at (800) 687-4227.