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Alcohol Dependence & AddictionAssess Your Risk for Addiction to Pain Medication   
 

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Assessing Your Risk for Addiction to Pain Medication


"In discussing guidelines for proper use of pain medication, it's important to first determine if an abuse or addiction problem exists. The following signs indicate problem use of pain medication:

  • You are using someone else's prescription
  • You are obtaining drugs from an illicit source or by illegal means
  • You are no longer using the drug for the symptoms for which it was originally prescribed
  • You need the drug in order to function
  • you are obtaining the drug from multiple physicians
  • You withold information, such as history of alcoholism or addiction, from your physician
  • You are lying about or hiding your use

 

 

The risk for triggering addiction and misuse is obviously much greater if you have a previous history of addiction, particularly if that addiction was to opiates. The greatest risk for reactivating addiction is during the first six to twelve months of sobriety. Every effort should be made to avoid any exposure to opiates during this time as it will reawaken all of the distortions, feelings of desperation and cravings of addiction.

The following list of questions can help you to assess your risk for addiction to pain medication, whether you have a history of addiction or not.

  •  Have you ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol? If you have, you should realize that you will readily become addicted to opiates regardless of what your drug of addiction has been.
  • Do you have a first-degree relative - parent, sibling, or child - with addiction or alcoholism? If you do, your risk for having this genetic potential is roughly 50%.
  • Have you ever thought that you could become addicted to something, or have you ever described yourself as having an "addictive personality."
  • Are you a trauma survivor?

If the answer to any of these question is "yes" and you have a well-defined need for pain medication, you should be in the care of a physician with expertise in addiction medicine.

If you believe you are in trouble with pain medication, the following points are very important:

  • Speak to the prescribing doctor immediately and make plans to stop the medication.

Do not stop on your own.

  • If you develop withdrawal symptoms when you stop (such as crushing pain in your lower back and legs or feelings of sadness, anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or desperation) you may need to be detoxified, possibly in a treatment center.
  • If you are already in recovery, speak to your sponsor and increase your meeting attendance. If Twelve Step recovery is not currently a part of your life, be sure your doctor consults with a physician who has experience treating addiction.

The risk for triggering addiction and misuse is obviously much greater if you have a previous history of addiction, particularly if that addiction was to opiates. The greatest risk for reactivating addiction is during the first six to twelve months of sobriety. Every effort should be made to avoid any exposure to opiates during this time as it will reawaken all of the distortions, feelings of desperation and cravings of addiction.

 

 

 
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