You may not believe that you are at risk of developing a prescription painkiller addiction because the medication was given to you by a doctor for a legitimate medical condition. And while it is true that taking prescription opiates for a valid, medical reason makes it less likely that you will become addicted, it does not make you immune to addiction. Addictions.com understands that one of the best ways to combat opioid addiction is through education and prevention.
- Understand your risk factors.
There are many different factors that could put you at a greater risk of developing an addiction to prescription painkillers, and it is wise to be aware of your own possible vulnerabilities, so you can be extra careful when taking prescription opiates. Genetics play a role in addiction. There are some families that have vulnerabilities within their genetic code that can pass down addictive tendencies from generation to generation. However, environment also plays a role, so that a family without a genetic predisposition towards addiction will become more vulnerable to it if a family member or members creates a home environment that normalizes or encourages drug use. Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression will also make you more vulnerable to prescription opiate addiction, as these medications can make mental disorders feel better in the short term—while only making them worse over time.
- Never take prescriptions that were not prescribed to you.
When you are in pain, and a friend or family member offers you a “leftover” prescription pain pill, it can be tempting to just take it and get some relief. This is a dangerous mistake. Painkillers vary widely in prescribed doses and potency, so that a pill safely prescribed to one individual could cause a deadly overdose reaction in another, even after the very first use. Even if you don’t overdose, taking painkillers from friends or family can cause reactions in your brain and body that can swiftly lead to dependence and addiction.
- Always take prescription opioids as directed.
Carefully read over the directions and labels that accompany your prescription opioid, so you understand how you are meant to take the medication. If you have any questions, ask to speak to the pharmacist. They have the training to instruct you on the proper use of prescription opiates, and will be happy to help. Once you understand prescribing directions, follow them closely, as misusing your prescription painkiller is a surefire way to encourage dependence and addiction.
- Take your prescription for seven days or less.
Limiting your use of prescription opiates to a maximum of seven days will allow you to treat your pain without putting you at risk of becoming dependent or addicted. The longer you use opioids, the greater the risk you take with your health.
- Seek alternative pain treatments.
Look into alternative methods of pain relief, such as meditation, yoga, and acupressure. They can be effective, drug-free ways to ease pain.