How To Be Safe When Taking Prescription Painkillers
Prescription painkillers can be useful medications to help you manage moderate and severe pain. In fact, for many people, these drugs make life tolerable again because they are so good at relieving pain. However, narcotic painkillers can also be dangerous. If you are prescribed an opioid narcotic painkiller, make sure you understand the risks and take steps to avoid becoming addicted.
Prescription Narcotics And The Addiction Epidemic
Narcotic opioid painkillers include drugs that are found naturally in the opium poppy as well as substances that were invented in a lab based on these natural compounds. They work to relieve pain in the body by activating opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the nervous system. This activation also gives the user a profound sense of euphoria, also known as a high. It is this effect that causes many people to abuse opioids and become addicted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that by 2010 one in 20 Americans over the age of twelve had abused a narcotic painkiller. In 2008, these drugs caused nearly 15,000 overdose deaths, a number that had quadrupled in a decade. Risk factors for overdosing on narcotic painkillers include being a man, living in a rural area and being middle aged, but anyone can be vulnerable.
What To Do To Keep Yourself Safe When Taking Painkillers
Take Your Medications As Directed
The most important thing you can do to take your medications safely and avoid becoming addicted is to follow your doctor’s directions. Never take more than your recommended dose without asking your doctor first. Never take the medication more frequently than recommended and never take it for a longer period of time. Do not crush a medication. Some drugs include extended release formulations, which can be destroyed when crushed. Doing any of these things constitutes abuse of the drug and puts you at risk for dependency. If your medication is not adequately relieving your pain, speak to your doctor about changing your prescription or dosage.
Communicate With Your Doctor And Other Caregivers
Health care workers can only help patients to the extent that there is good communication. A good relationship between you and your doctor will give help you to get the best care possible. Tell your doctor if you experience any uncomfortable side effects from a prescription. Also report when a drug is not working for you or if its effectiveness has changed at all. It is also important that you tell your doctor about any other medications or supplements that you take. There may be dangerous interactions with your narcotic painkiller.
Narcotic painkillers interact dangerously with alcohol. Even one glass of wine or one cocktail while taking a prescription painkiller can be harmful. Both alcohol and your painkiller affect your central nervous system in such a way as to make you a little fuzzy. They both depress your breathing. When taken together, these effects are multiplied. Many overdose deaths occur when someone has mixed a painkiller with alcohol. As long as you need to be on this medication, avoid drinking at all.
Protecting yourself from the dangers of narcotic painkillers is important. If you follow these guidelines you can get the benefits of these drugs while minimizing your risk of dangerous side effects, addiction and overdosing. It is also important to protect those around you. Most people who abuse narcotic painkillers got them from a friend or family member. Never give your prescription to someone else and keep your medications locked up so that no one else can get access to them.
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