Painkillers are essential, and while many of us can take them without becoming addicted, others become dependent on their medication and fall into the trap of painkiller addiction. In fact, in a recent report by the Office of National Statistics, it was revealed that almost 2 million people are addicted to pain medicines in the UK alone, many of whom are believed to purchase their painkillers from friends, dealers or illegal online pharmacies, otherwise referred to as the ‘grey market’.
Prescription only painkillers such as codeine are commonly prescribed by doctors in the UK as a short-term support system for those suffering with mild, moderate or severe pain. Designed to help improve your quality of life as you recover from an accident, illness, injury, or surgery, they are highly effective at relieving pain when taken as directed by a medical professional, but when taken over prolonged periods, the body can adapt to the presence of the drug, become addicted, and shows immediate withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it.
If you are in pain, but worried about taking pain medicines, here are some top tips to help you beat the trap of painkiller addiction:
Take as Prescribed by your GP
When taking strong prescription painkillers, especially Opiate drugs, it is essential that you take them exactly as prescribed by your doctor and never exceed the recommended dose. If your pain medicines are not giving you the relief you need, you should return to your GP immediately and discuss possible alternatives. If you accidently miss a dose, simply skip it and take your next pill as directed, never double up.
Reduce Your Dose Gradually
As your body begins to recover from an accident, injury or surgery, the need for pain relief medication will diminish, and so you should try to reduce your dose gradually to avoid any withdrawal symptoms that could leave you reaching for more medicines. In terms of addiction, the sooner you come off your painkillers the better, but it needs to be done gradually and with doctor’s supervision.
Look for Alternative Pain Relief Therapies
While painkillers are ultimately the most effective way to relieve pain, there are many other techniques and therapies available for those who are prone to addiction. Massage, acupuncture, hot and cold therapy, and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy could provide the relief you need, so if there is a history of addiction in your family, or you are concerned that you may become dependent on you pain meds, speak to your GP about the alternatives.
Recognise the Signs of Painkiller Addiction
One of the easiest ways to avoid painkiller addiction, is by recognising the signs before they get out of hand. Has your prescribed dose run out earlier than it should have? Have you tried to purchase more painkillers online? Do you take tablets secretly? Do you feel that you cannot function without your daily dose? If so, you may be at risk of addiction, so speak to your doctor about your concerns, and work together to find a pain management plan that is both highly effective and risk free.