Opioids are generally safe when used only as prescribed by a doctor. This broad group of pain-reducing medications that includes oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone, codeine and others has been effective in reducing acute and chronic pain. Opioid-only or opioid combination drugs are used only when other medications are not effective in treating pain.
The body already has opioid chemicals and receptors called endorphins that relieve pain. Opioid drugs interact with these opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and throughout the body to dull the perception of pain even more. This is the primary reason why this class of drugs is effective in improving pain with tolerable side effects. No wonder they are widely used for short-term medication after an injury or surgery, when pain is severe.
Along with pain relief, opioids also produce euphoria which may lead to dangerous health problems such as addiction and overdose. Both the feelings of pain relief and increased pleasure have caused widespread abuse of opioid drugs to the extent that some resort to illegal and cheap alternatives in the form of heroin. This extreme danger led to national guidelines that allow physicians to prescribe opioids only for the shortest duration.
These medications made from opium poppy plant are equally effective and dangerous. The drugs might be a solution to discomfort caused by extreme pain, but their abuse has claimed lives and reduced life expectancy in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a staggering average of 130 people die every day due to overdose and 75 of them are teens. In two decades, the addiction has already killed more than 200,000 people.
These scary statistics clearly show the precarious situation that people can get into with opioids. Because just like any narcotics, opioids are utterly addictive. The feelings of pleasure can make you desire more which may eventually lead to drug addiction. Apart from that, side effects include sleep apnea, slowing down breathing, and lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
It is extremely important that you talk with your doctor, most especially when you are taking other medications and supplements, about the health risks involved and alternative drugs, if there are any, or other therapies that are as effective. If possible, ask for the lowest effective dose that can run for a short period of time. This lowers your chances of becoming opioid dependent, especially when you’re experiencing extreme pain. Also, it would be best if your doctor can plan regular check-ups to check on your progress and monitor for any signs that might indicate abuse or addiction.
But, doctors can only do so much. You are primarily responsible for your overall safety. As such, always follow all instructions made by your physician and take medicines exactly as prescribed. Never hesitate to tell your doctor any side effects you feel or any inclination of wanting to use more opioids for pleasure. The time that you take to withhold information could mean the difference between life and death.
Opioid abuse or addiction is a complex, chronic health condition that requires long-term treatment. Since it is more cerebral than physical, opioid dependence deals with various treatments including medicines, psychosocial approaches, counseling and therapies. Also, overcoming addiction with CBD is a potential treatment in lieu of pharmacological interventions, which are often risky and strictly regulated.
Anyone is vulnerable to drug dependence. In fact, it is impossible to predict who can be abusing pain-numbing medicine. With extreme caution and constant communication with professionals, you can lower the risks and avoid the dangers of falling down the rabbit hole of opioid addiction.