You’re struggling with ongoing pain, and you rely on pain-relieving medications to help you get through the day. All too soon, however, you find yourself taking your medications earlier than you should or doubling up on doses because you feel you need more. These behaviors are the hallmarks of opioid misuse and they set you on a dangerous course toward an opioid use disorder.
As pain management specialists, Drs. Do Chan, Boris Shwartzman, and the rest of the team here at Comprehensive Pain Management, recognize that opioid-based pain relievers are a double-edged sword and a treatment protocol that needs to be handled with extreme care.
Here, we discuss the definition of opioid misuse and how we can help you manage these medications safely and effectively.
At the start of this blog post, we described a couple of behaviors that qualify as prescription opioid misuse, namely:
An estimated 10 million people ages 12 and older in the United States reported misusing prescription pain relievers in 2019 alone, which underscores the prevalence of the problem.
The road to misusing opioids and developing an opioid use disorder can be subtle and incredibly fast. The neurotransmitters in your brain are already equipped with opioid receptors, which is one of the reasons why these medications are so effective at relieving pain.
One problem with introducing opioids is that your brain starts to shift its neural pathways to receive this outside source and suppresses the production of your body’s natural pain relievers, primarily endorphins.
When your body suppresses its natural ability to combat pain, you rely solely on the medication. Making matters more complicated, you can build up a tolerance to the medication, prompting you to take more to achieve the same pain-relieving effect.
Over very little time, the shift in your brain’s chemicals can “rewire” your brain in such a way that your brain begins to crave the medication, whether you need it for pain or not, which is one of the first signs of an opioid use disorder.
To prevent an opioid use disorder from developing and to help you take your medications safely and effectively, we offer medications management services.
Using the guidelines of the Department of Health, we closely monitor your use of prescription pain relievers to ensure that you’re taking them properly.
To start, we perform an extensive evaluation of your physical and mental health. From there, our goal is to prescribe the lowest dose of pain relievers possible, and we monitor your usage through routine urine drug testing and behavioral assessments.
Under our medications management program, we also encourage our patients to explore healthier ways to combat pain. For example, if you’re struggling with osteoarthritis, an exercise regimen can go a long way toward relieving the pain and inflammation in your joints.
Using this same example, a few dietary changes are also beneficial in reducing your body’s inflammation.
In other words, we feel that prescription pain relievers should only be one part of a much larger treatment plan that help you stay one step ahead of pain.
To learn more about how we can help you avoid misusing opioid-based pain relievers, contact one of our offices—in Attleboro or Franklin, Massachusetts, as well as South Kingstown or Warwick, Rhode Island—to set up a consultation.