The use of opioids to relieve pain that is chronic and debilitating is a point of contention, for the reason that there are serious risks associated with the use of opioids. While every type of medication come with side effects, especially when the patient misuses them, the misuse of opioids can lead to addiction and be life-threatening.
If taken as indicated, you can reap the benefits of opioids, which is greater pain relief when you need it most. Those suffering from debilitating pain experience tremendous relief using opioids, which is why they are appropriate drugs for specific situations and people. For this reason, health care providers are urged to carefully weigh the pros and cons of prescribing opioids to each patient based on their needs.
Let’s talk about the benefits and risks of using opioids for chronic pain.
The Effectiveness of Opioids For Pain Relief
With opioids being so controversial, you may wonder why physicians even prescribe them at all, and the answer is that opioids are very effective for debilitating pain relief. Many other drugs can relieve pain symptoms that range from mild to moderate in severity. However, extremely severe pain does not respond well to such drugs. For such cases, opioids are one of the few effective solutions.
Examples of opioids prescribed for chronic, debilitating pain are morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Usually, doctors prescribe such drugs to patients living with debilitating pain, such as those who recently had surgery, as well as those receiving end-of-life care.
Risks of Misusing and Abusing Opioids
In most cases of opioid addiction, misuse is the culprit. Opioids should only be used for a short period of time, and should be combined with other pain management therapies in order to gradually reduce intake of the drug. Opioid tolerance develops after extended use of the drug that renders the same dosage less effective, which may lead a patient to take a higher dosage of the drug, and as a result, begin to abuse it.
Opioids are also highly addictive. The relief a person with severe pain experiences after taking it could have an addictive affect, making them crave it on a regular basis. This is why opioid use should be limited to when it is needed most and other pain relieving medications do not bring relief. It is not intended for long-term use.
Patients that stop taking opioids may experience unpleasant side effects that may lead them to begin taking the opioids once again. If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from opioids, let your physician know. They can help you slowly wean off them while addressing the unpleasant side effects in the process.
Opioid overdoses are also life-threatening. From 2018 to 2019, there were over 69,000 deaths attributed to the overuse of opioids. As such, patients should take opioids responsibly under close supervision of a doctor.
Opioids Call Upon Greater Responsibility on Both Sides
Opioids for chronic pain carry a greater risk than other types of pain medication. However, patients can still benefit from it so long as they follow their physician’s advice and take the drug as prescribed. Physicians have the responsibility of setting up limitations in order to reduce a patient’s overdose risk.
If you are taking a higher dosage than what’s prescribed and continue to take it despite the harmful effects, you may be addicted, in which case, seek help immediately. When it comes to opioid addiction, there is no shortage of help available, and you should never feel embarrassed to seek it. There are support groups and physician-assisted treatment programs for those struggling with opioid addiction.
Safe and Controlled Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain in Washington & New Mexico
At Lynx Healthcare, we provide opioid therapy after performing a comprehensive and individualized evaluation of a patient, which includes a complete review of their medical history. We practice safe opioid prescribing practices and exercise extreme caution for your health and safety.
For a consultation with our health care specialists, call Lynx Healthcare at (509) 591-0070 or submit an appointment request, and we will get back to you soon.