Prescription painkillers are used for a wide variety of medical conditions to relieve moderate to severe pain that is not managed sufficiently by over-the-counter pain relievers. However, many people do not realize that these painkillers are powerful medications with a potential for addiction and can even be hazardous if not used correctly. Here are some important facts you may not know about prescription painkillers and how they should be used.
Even Used As Directed, There’s A Risk of Addiction
Patients who are prescribed opioid painkillers often feel they are safe from addiction if they only take them as directed by their physicians. Generally, these drugs are safe and effective for relieving the pain of many medical conditions, but patients should always remember that these medications work by changing the chemistry in the brain. These changes can increase the risk of addiction, even if you are taking them as directed. You should always stay in close contact with your physician when taking these drugs, and you should be alert to any signs that you feel compelled to use more than directed or more frequently than directed.
Alcohol and Painkillers Are A Dangerous Combination
If your doctor prescribes a prescription painkiller, you should immediately place yourself on an alcohol-free regime for the duration of your treatment. Alcohol can enhance the effects of opioid medications, causing problems with driving, operating equipment or functioning in your daily life. If you normally have a glass of wine with dinner, or a drink after work, forego this habit until you are finished taking medication to avoid drowsiness, accidents and possible overdose.
Extended Release Forms May Not Be As Safe As You Think
Extended release forms of prescription painkillers were developed to allow patients to take fewer pills and avoid “breakthrough” pain that often occurred from missing a dose. However, this form is generally stronger and stays in the body longer than standard dosages, which can cause an increased risk for overdose from these powerful medications. The government has taken several steps to prevent painkiller abuse, for this reason. By understanding the Drug Care and Security Act, which outlines the steps needed to build a system to track certain prescription drugs, you can know more about how your particular prescription is tracked. It is important to know how safe or unsafe the painkiller you’re taking may be, whether it’s extended release or not.
Prescription Painkillers Aren’t Effective Against Long-Term Pain
If you have experienced chronic pain over a period of time, prescription painkillers may not be the right solution for your needs. These drugs are very good for relieving short-term pain, but may cause you to need higher doses for long-term pain that can put you at risk for overdose or addiction.
If you are prescribed prescription painkillers, you should always keep in mind that these are powerful drugs that require special care to ensure their safety. Only take them as directed and discuss restrictions carefully with your physician before beginning their use.