How to Use Pain Pills Safely
Pain pills, often in the form of prescription opioids, are potent medications that can be highly effective in treating pain. However, they also carry significant risks if not taken properly, so knowing how to use pain pills safely is crucial.
In recent years, the misuse and addiction to pain pills have become a serious public health crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of prescription drug-related deaths in the US involve opioids. In this blog post, we will review pain pills' potential health dangers and addiction risks and offer tips for using pain pills responsibly.
Common Types of Pain Pills
In many instances, referring to “pain pills” means you’re talking about opioids. Opioids are powerful painkillers that work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, blocking pain signals and producing feelings of euphoria and relaxation. These pain pills may be used to manage moderate to severe pain, such as pain from surgery, injury, or chronic conditions like arthritis.
There are many types of pain pills available, but some of the most commonly prescribed include the following:
These opioid pain pills can be highly effective in managing discomfort, but they also carry significant risks of addiction, overdose, and other negative side effects. Misusing opioids, such as taking them without a prescription, taking more than prescribed, or combining them with other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines, can increase the risk of these negative effects.
Risks of Misusing Pain Pills
When you are trying to manage severe or chronic pain, it can be tempting to use pain pills beyond the dosage you have been prescribed. But misusing pain pills can lead to serious health problems, including:
- Respiratory depression: Certain pain pills can slow down breathing to dangerous levels, leading to hypoxia, brain damage, coma, and even death.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Opioids can cause constipation, nausea, and vomiting, leading to intestinal blockages, hemorrhoids, and other digestive issues.
- Hormonal imbalances: Opioids can disrupt the normal production of hormones like testosterone and estrogen, leading to sexual dysfunction, infertility, and other health problems.
- Liver damage: Some pain pills, like acetaminophen-containing drugs, can cause liver damage if taken in high doses or combined with alcohol.
- Cognitive impairment: Long-term opioid use can affect memory, attention, and decision-making abilities, as well as increase the risk of developing dementia.
- Overdose: Taking too many opioid pain pills can overwhelm the body's ability to metabolize the drug, leading to overdose. Combining them with alcohol or other drugs can further increase the risk of overdose, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms of opioid overdose include slowed or stopped breathing, blue lips or nails, pinpoint pupils, and unconsciousness.
Are Pain Pills Addictive?
Yes, pain pills are highly addictive, especially when misused. In addition to easing pain, opioids can cause euphoria and relaxation. This can lead people to rely on pain pills as an emotional crutch. Over time, the brain can also become physically dependent on opioids, leading to withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped suddenly.
Guidelines for Safely Using Pain Pills
When it comes to pain pills for moderate to severe discomfort, such medications are available by prescription only and should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
To use pain pills safely, follow these guidelines:
- Only take pain pills as prescribed by your healthcare provider
- Do not take pain pills more frequently or in higher doses than prescribed
- Do not share your pain pills with others
- Do not crush or break pain pills before taking them
- Do not drink alcohol while taking pain pills
- Do not operate heavy machinery or drive a vehicle while taking pain pills
- Properly dispose of any unused or expired pain pills
It is important to remember that pain pills can be habit-forming even when used as prescribed. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider if you experience any side effects or if you have concerns about using pain pills.
Signs of Pain Pill Dependency
Even if you use your prescriptions responsibly, there’s a chance that your body may become reliant on the drugs for relief. Pain pill addiction, also known as opioid use disorder, is a chronic and often relapsing condition that can cause significant harm to an individual's physical and mental health, as well as their relationships and overall quality of life.
Some signs of pain pill addiction may include:
- Taking pain pills more frequently or in higher doses than prescribed
- Continuing to use pain pills even after the pain has subsided
- Obsessively thinking about obtaining and using pain pills
- Doctor shopping or obtaining pain pills from multiple sources
- Changes in mood or behavior, such as irritability, anxiety, or depression
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
- Financial problems due to spending money on pain pills
- Physical symptoms of opioid use, such as constricted pupils, nodding off, or constipation
- Needing more pain pills to achieve the same effect (tolerance)
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, seek support from a healthcare professional or addiction specialist.
Finding Help for Pain Pill Addiction
When struggling with addiction to pain pills, it is essential to get help from a healthcare professional. Treatment options for pain pill addiction may include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), counseling, and support groups. There are several ways to find help nearby:
- Ask your healthcare provider: Your doctor or other healthcare professional can provide referrals to addiction treatment programs or specialists in your area.
- Contact your insurance company: Your insurance company can provide information on covered addiction treatment services and facilities.
- Use SAMHSA's Treatment Locator: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a national directory of addiction treatment providers, which can be searched by location, treatment type, and payment options.
- Contact a helpline: National helplines, such as the National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) or the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990), can provide information and referrals to local addiction treatment resources.
- Research online: Conduct a web search for treatment options in your area, such as addiction treatment providers and support groups near you.
Stay Informed with Countrywide Testing
While prescriptions like opioids serve an important purpose in medical care, it’s crucial to understand how to use pain pills safely. When you have questions about medications, substance misuse, and addiction, Countrywide Testing has the answers you need.
An online retailer of reliable, on-site drug testing kits, Countrywide offers an array of products for workplace testing, healthcare emergencies, law enforcement purposes, and individuals trying to stay clean after rehab. Our test kits are convenient, affordable, and ship to you quickly. Plus, our lab is accredited by SAMHSA, so you can rest assured your test results are handled in accordance with the highest industry standards.
Even over-the-counter medications can carry risks, but with professionals in your corner, you can tackle addiction and follow best practices for a clean lifestyle. Want more information on how Countrywide can support drug and medication safety? Just contact our team today.