Not sure if you’ve become dependent on the opioids your doctor has prescribed? Follow these tips from pain management expert Teresa Dews, MD.
You’re not taking medication as prescribed.If you’re supposed to take them every six hours, you take them every three hours.
You’re taking the medications for reasons other than pain.You use them to help yourself cope or for anxiety, depression or insomnia.
You run out of medication early. You could be taking opioids more often than prescribed. (Or someone else may be taking your medication.)
You’re preoccupied with your medication. You stare at the clock until it’s time to take another pill.
You’ve changed the way you take opioids. To boost their effect, you mix them with over-the-counter meds or alcohol. Or you cut or grind them to inject, smoke or inhale.
Your family is worried about you. Those who care about you see changes in your behavior or personality.
Opioid addiction: Everyone’s at risk
Under the right conditions — including the type and dose of medications you receive — anyone can can become addicted to opioids, says Dr. Dews. To lower your chances of opioid abuse:
1. Understand your risk factors
- A family history of substance abuse
- A personal history of drug, alcohol, marijuana or tobacco use, abuse or dependency
- Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD or another mental health disorder
- Severe social stressors, such as family and/or financial worries
- Young age
2. Minimize your exposure
- Use opioids sparingly, if at all.
- Use non-opioid pain management techniques whenever possible.
- Talk to your doctors about non-opioid pain treatment options.