Any person can develop an opioid dependency within 5 days of prescription use. That’s because opioids kill pain by releasing endorphins and creating a temporary sense of euphoria. When this chemical high wears off, the patient might crave it once again.
Unfortunately, anyone who takes opioids is at risk of developing this craving. When an opioid craving becomes irresistible for someone and they take the drugs obsessively, despite repeated harmful consequences, they may have formed an addiction. Once again, opioid addiction can develop in any individual, and it takes less than a week.
How to Avoid Addiction
If you are prescribed opioids, you need to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Do not take opioids for chronic pain or use them for more than a few days at a time. Your doctor will likely prescribe you the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible period. Do not take the drugs unless you need them and take them only as directed. Crushing and snorting a prescription pill can make it more addictive, as can injecting opioid medications. Opioid injections are especially dangerous, as delivering an extended-action formula directly into your bloodstream could cause an accidental overdose and/or death.
Anyone who has a history of addiction, whether personal or within their family, should think twice about using opioids. Be sure to discuss your mental and physical health with your doctor before accepting an opioid prescription.
Protecting Yourself and Others
While you are using opioids, you should also protect others by safeguarding your medication. Sharing prescription medication is dangerous and against the law, so you should avoid allowing anyone else access to your opioids.
If you have leftover pills, you may be able to return them to the pharmacy. Some local pharmacies have a “take back,” or mail-back program, but you can also find an official safe disposal location near you. For further instructions, you can also contact the DEA at (800) 882-9539 or view the FDA’s guide for when and how to dispose of unused medicines.
Don’t Keep Your Leftover Prescriptions for Future Use
When surveyed, many patients reported keeping their unused opioids. Due to the nationwide opioid crisis, emergency rooms are prescribing these powerful painkillers less and less frequently. As a result, many people are incentivized to hold onto their existing prescriptions. This harmful habit increases the risk of addiction and could put highly addictive painkillers into the wrong hands.
If you are worried about your access to pain medication, inadequate treatment for pain, or any other aspect of your healthcare, talk to your doctor instead of holding onto unused prescriptions.
Medical professionals are aware of patients keeping pills for future use and will work with you to find a better solution. A doctor and columnist for Pain News Network summarized doctors’ goals with the following statement:
“let us avoid making people in pain pay with unnecessary suffering for the opioid overprescribing sins of others.”
What If I Am Already Addicted to Opioids?
If you have developed an opioid addiction, you are not alone, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. Just like doctors help you manage your pain after an operation, Decision Point Center can help you manage and overcome the disease of addiction.