Opioids, such as prescription narcotics, are highly addictive. They work on certain receptors in the brain to decrease pain and create a calm feeling while also inducing tiredness. Narcotics are often used as the first line of defense against moderate to severe pain in hospitals and clinics around the world. While behavioral therapies can decrease some types of pain, especially chronic pain, narcotics are often necessary for acute pain, such as what occurs with a serious injury or a surgery. Narcotics may also be prescribed for cancer, tooth extractions, labor and delivery, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

[su_note note_color=”#F0F0F0″]Because the risk for addiction is so great when taking narcotics, patients should treat these drugs with extreme care. They should always take the prescription only as directed whether that means taking the drug only when they have pain or on a regular basis. If their pain remains uncontrolled, they should ask the doctor for a new dosage rather than self-prescribing. Additionally, narcotics, as with all prescription medications, should never be shared with anyone and should only be used by the patient for whom they were prescribed.[/su_note]

Be Prepared When Using Prescription Drugs

When the time comes to go off the medication, patients should be aware that they may feel withdrawal symptoms if they have been on the medication for more than a week. This is because long-term use of narcotics almost always produces dependency but not addiction. It is impossible to predict when dependency occurs because it can occur at a different point for everyone. While some are dependent on a narcotic after only a week, others may be able to take the drug for a month or longer without any problems.

[su_note note_color=”#F0F0F0″]Patients should only go off a long-term narcotic under the supervision of a physician because the drug will need to be slowly tapered over the course of a few weeks. If they notice symptoms of withdrawal, such as respiratory changes, sweatiness, nausea or unusual irritability, they should contact their doctors who may recommend a different plan for tapering.[/su_note]

It is typically only patients who abuse their drugs by taking them in a manner for which they have not been prescribed or those who use someone else’s prescribed narcotics who become addicted to prescription drugs. These individuals should immediately contact a drug rehabilitation center, such as First Step Recovery, for help in regaining their physical, mental, emotional and social lives.