People who are currently in recovery for addiction or even those who have been sober for years face special challenges when it comes to treatment for pain. Any type of surgical procedure or other medical condition that would normally require painkillers to be prescribed can be a risky situation for a former addict.
While they may be sober or have successfully managed their sobriety in the long term from a particular substance, those addictive tendencies are always there. A person with an addiction problem must be careful about relapsing even when it comes to using prescription drugs or any substances that are not their former drug of choice.
No matter what the situation, there is always a strong chance that a person in recovery could become addicted to prescription drugs that are given to them for pain management. It is important for them to find an option that would allow them pain relief without any potential for addiction.
Dangers of Opioid Medication
Although it might be risky for someone in recovery to take medication, they need to find some way to manage their pain especially after a surgical procedure. It is very important for recovered addicts to be extremely cautious about taking any opioid prescription drugs as these have the highest potential for addiction.
Many patients are commonly prescribed drugs such as codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin which are effective at suppressing your perception of pain but also provide the user with a sense of calm and even euphoria. For the average person, taking prescription opioids can be safe if they follow the doctor's instructions and do not take them for longer than a few days.
However, for a person with a history of substance abuse they can quickly become dependent on opioids. This type of painkiller medication can effects similar to heroin when taken in high doses or in ways other than is prescribed. Opioid painkillers are now some of the most commonly abused drugs in the U.S. For someone in recovery, they should either avoid or be very careful about using this type of medication for whatever pain they are experiencing.
Avoiding Addiction in Pain Treatment
Although opioid drugs are commonly prescribed to patients, if someone has a history of substance abuse doctors can find non-opioid alternatives for pain management. If an addict is not confident about using opioids and the risks associated with it they can seek other prescriptions.
Non-opioid medications such as anti-epileptic drugs, anti-depressants and anti-arrhythmic drugs can all be effective at treating pain. If the patient finds that these medications are not effective at treating their pain they can also try options like methadone or buprenorphine which are commonly used to wean people off of an opioid addiction. These drugs have a much lower risk of addiction than medications like Oxycontin.
If someone in recovery is given any opioid medication it is important that they enter into a contract with their doctor that would establish certain limitations to prevent any abuse or misuse of the drugs. The patient and doctor would come to an understanding that they only receive a prescription from one doctor and one pharmacy.
The doctor can also do a drug screening to ensure that the patient is not taking a higher dose or abusing any other drugs. The best option for people in recovery is to rely mainly on non-opioid medication and opioids should only be used if absolutely necessary and only with careful monitoring by a doctor. Pain management must be structured and treated with the utmost care for people in recovery so that they can avoid the risk of becoming addicted or dependent on their medication.