So many people struggling with addiction began their love affair with drugs while taking a legitimate prescription medication. For over a decade, doctors played fast and loose with the prescription of narcotic painkillers—they prescribed powerful opioids for acute issues.
Many in the medical profession believed that these provided superior relief with a relatively low chance of addiction. Unfortunately, they were wrong. When a person takes prescription narcotics for more than a few days, their body begins to depend on the drugs. This physical dependence means that the body has gotten used to having narcotics consistently. If a person tries to stop taking them, they can experience withdrawal symptoms and serious depression.
Overprescribing Led to an Epidemic
The practice of overprescribing fueled the opioid epidemic and accelerated a problem that was already out of control. Drugs like heroin have been popular on the street for decades. The problem didn’t explode until tens of thousands of patients were told they could no longer have a prescription for their narcotic painkillers.
The medical community didn’t have a plan in place for the backlash that this caused, meaning that there wasn’t enough treatment available, and many people turned to illicit drugs. Now, many of the same people have made it through Methadone programs are used to help addicts wean themselves off prescription painkillers in order to ward off cravings.
A primary concern for anyone who’s overcoming addiction is relapsing. The best way to prevent this is to avoid triggers and exposure to drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, there are times when addicts have to battle chronic or acute pain. When this happens, it can be difficult to know whether or not narcotic pain medications are appropriate.
Car accidents, severe injuries, and surgery are obvious situations where narcotics might be necessary. But, pulled muscles, headaches, and broken toes may not necessarily mandate that level of care. Addicts know that they have to be very careful with medications that they take, and it’s important to investigate non-narcotic ways to treat pain.
Over the Counter Meds
Most of us have taken some form of over-the-counter painkiller at one point or another. Over-the-counter medication can be abused as well, but it’s less likely to cause physical addiction. These are medications that are generally considered safe for people in recovery:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an analgesic, meaning that it works by blocking some of the pain receptors in the brain. It doesn’t cause euphoria and is only harmful when taken excessively. It’s possible to overdose on acetaminophen, and it can cause serious problems with the liver.
Always ask your doctor before taking anything, especially if you have any underlying conditions.
Topical medications are creams that can be rubbed into the afflicted area. This includes things like Icy Hot and Aspercreme. They may have analgesic properties or release specific medications as they are absorbed into the skin; these are great for muscle aches and site-specific pain. Just remember that not all topical creams are created equal. Some may claim to work in miraculous ways, but only provide minor relief.
Acupuncture is a mixture of ancient Chinese treatment and modern medical beliefs. It involves using long thin needles to puncture targeted areas of the body. Many believe that this can realign a person’s spiritual energies, alleviating their physical symptoms. A more scientific approach points to the way that the body processes pain as an explanation for acupuncture benefits.
Regardless of what you believe, many people claim that acupuncture has done wonderful things to improve their health and well-being. If an alternative is safe and it works, then there’s nothing wrong with utilizing it.
Who doesn’t love a professional massage? In reality, a trained massage therapist can target certain muscle groups and help to relax these areas of the body. This can be beneficial for pulled muscles, sprains, and areas where tension is causing the pain.
A chiropractor manipulates the musculoskeletal system with the goal of realigning and alleviating blockage in joints. They take a more scientific approach to treating pain but still have limited capabilities. It’s very important to make sure that the chiropractor is fully licensed and formally educated. No one should trust any part of their anatomy to someone whose education consists of a certificate printed online.
Yoga has been used to improve the connection between the mind and body for centuries. It involves using one’s breath to guide their body’s movements in a series of poses. When done correctly, yoga has the potential to increase flexibility, improve muscle tone, and reduce joint pain. Just like any other activity, it’s important to make sure that you’re practicing your yoga in the right way. Finding a licensed instructor can help you figure out if it’s for you.
One of the best ways to combat and prevent pain is to keep yourself in good physical shape. Exercise strengthens the body, reduces weight, and has a positive impact on your overall health. When you keep yourself strong and within your accepted weight range, you put less stress on your body. This means less back pain, fewer joint issues, and an increased level of endorphins.
No one should have to live with pain, but it’s important to investigate all of your options before turning back to prescription medications. Always talk to your doctor and keep a positive attitude about overcoming pain and staying in recovery.