14 Mar How to Prevent Addiction to Opioids
Integrated Pain Consultants prioritize customer comfort and safety, which is why opioids for pain management are reserved for very specific and often short-term cases. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie Cosijns, Dr. Lisa Sparks, Dr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.
What Are Opioids
Opioids are a natural substance (unlike opiates which are a synthetic man-made drug) derived from poppy plants. However, not all-natural substances are necessarily safe. Some of the most highly addictive substances are also natural, such as alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, and heroin. In fact, prescription opioids are a common stepping stone to a heroin addiction. Many heroin addicts began their journey by being prescribed opioids. When they no longer had access to that prescription and/or needed something stronger, heroin became a natural substitute.
Preventing any addiction may start with not trying the drug at all. Opioids are a notoriously addictive drug, and studies have shown that it doesn’t take much usage (just a few weeks in some cases) for a person to get hooked. As more information about the reality of opioid addiction reaches the public, more people are questioning if they should use it and seeking out alternative therapies.
However, avoiding opioids isn’t always possible. Opioids can be a very effective treatment for short-term pain management. Issues arise when patients are prescribed opioids for longer periods of time and/or to patients with addictive tendencies. Still, how long it takes a person to become addicted to opioids can vary drastically. In some cases, a patient might develop a dependency or an addiction after just a few days. Other times, a person might be able to regularly take opioids for several weeks without an issue. It depends on a myriad of factors including sex, weight, race, and overall genetics.
There’s some truth to the idea of an “addiction gene,” though it’s much more complicated than that. Some patients know if they’re prone to addiction, perhaps because they’ve already struggled with it to some degree or someone in their family is an addict. Addiction can certainly have a genetic component, which is why knowing your family history is important.
The third way to help prevent opioid addiction is to actively seek out safe, non-addictive alternative therapies. These might include steroid injections. Such therapies aren’t always included with insurance policies, but that’s changing (particularly with Medicaid coverage). Many alternative therapy clinics also offer payment plans and/or financing. If you’d like to know more about medication management and avoiding opioids, schedule an appointment online with Integrated Pain Consultants.