Pain is just a part of the aging experience. As we age, things just hurt – sometimes for no apparent reason. Younger people also experience pain, but it is most commonly after an injury or surgical procedure. Nonetheless, the occasional headache or muscle ache is a common experience for almost everyone. American society has become conditioned to reach for over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat the minor aches and pains that affect everyone from old to young. For more significant pain, however, people usually turn to prescription pain medications.
In most cases, these are very effective at managing pain and allow people to live relatively normal lives. There are, however, a growing number of people who are struggling with prescription pain medication addiction. In these cases, a professional substance abuse treatment program, like The Right Step Hoston, is the best way to regain control. Call 1.844.768.0169 to learn more.
How The Average Person Ends Up Taking Pain Medication
By Stephanie Thomas, Contributing Writer with Promises Behavioral Health
For the purposes of our discussion, let’s talk about a made-up gal named Susan.
Susan played tennis growing up. It started as a hobby—a fun way to spend a Saturday morning with her mom and later with her friends. And she was good too. By the time Susan entered her senior year of high school, she had her pick of colleges offering scholarships.
The tennis team paid for her bachelor’s degree—thank you very much. And Susan returned her racket to hobby status as she began her career and found footing as an adult. But the years of intense practice left their mark.
Two decades later, Susan entered her primary care doctor’s office as a successful businesswoman and busy mom with nagging elbow pain. An hour later, she walked out with a prescription for Vicodin and a new lease on life!
Susan rejoined her friends on the court, chased her kids on the playground, and sat through meetings without a passing thought for her elbow.
What a gift, right? And it is. Modern medicine offers us many benefits, just like Susan and many others enjoy.
But there can be too much of a good thing; consider the following statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:
- In 2016, U.S. doctors wrote 214,881,622 opioid prescriptions, 66.5 prescriptions per 100 U.S. citizens.
- In 2017, U.S. doctors wrote 191,909,384 opioid prescriptions, 59.0 prescriptions per 100 U.S. citizens.
- In 2018 U.S. doctors wrote 168,158,611 opioid prescriptions, 51.4 prescriptions per 100 U.S. citizens.
- In 2019 U.S. doctors wrote 153,260,450 opioid prescriptions, 46.7 prescriptions per 100 U.S. citizens.
Even though the number of prescriptions is dropping, a staggering number of opioids still flow through American society. Is it any wonder that people with no prior history of substance misuse find themselves in a tricky situation when it comes to opioid addiction?
How to Recognize a Pain Medication Problem in Yourself or Others
When a person is in genuine pain, it might be hard for them—or their loved ones—to know when pain medication crosses the line from helpful to harmful.
VeryWell Mind offers a list of behaviors that act as red flags for addiction:
- Taking opioids on a schedule different than prescribed
- Doubling up on doses
- A person who consistently loses their pills
- Suspicions of stealing others’ pills
- A person who makes appointments with multiple doctors for the same problem
- Taking opioids for something other than pain relief
- Refusal to try alternative methods of pain management
- A person who spends more and more time alone
If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or a loved one—or if you notice a growing physical dependence or tolerance—reach out to a professional pain medication treatment center for help.
Professional treatment centers like The Right Step Houston understand what opioids do to the unsuspecting brain and body. Our 24-hour medical staff can assist you through the early withdrawal days. And our trained counselors will walk with you as you work to reach and maintain sobriety. Call 1.844.768.0169 today if you or a loved one are struggling with prescription pain medication abuse and addiction.
How to Avoid Prescription Pain Medication Problems in the First Place
Ask Susan or any other person who’s struggled to overcome opioid addiction, and they’ll likely suggest you find ways to prevent an opioid problem before it starts.
You can start by having a frank conversation with your doctor. Say, “I’m well aware of the risks of opioid use and misuse, even in people with no history of addiction. Can you tell me your ideas for managing my pain without prescription pain medicine? If you feel like opioids are necessary, how can we work to limit my dosage amount to the absolute minimum?”
If you receive pushback of any kind—or get a too-casual vibe about the nature of opioids—consider a second opinion. Advocating for yourself now may save you a world of trouble in the future.
Research your options and apply whatever methods you can to try and temper your pain without opioids. And if you can’t? Proceed with caution, keeping an open dialogue with your doctor and loved ones.
Reach Out to The Right Step Houston Today
Yes, we’re all getting older. And we’ll experience pain for one reason or another. But now we’re informed too. And we can power through—going after our goals and then some—without worry.
It might feel scary to recognize dependent or addictive behavior in yourself or a loved one, but The Right Step Houston can help you figure out your next steps. Give us a call at 1.844.768.0169.