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How to Reduce the Likelihood of Painkillers Addiction?

The likelihood of addiction to painkillers is about 1 in 500 when patients undergo a proper examination before their doctors give a prescription. But with a less thorough examination, the risk may increase to 1 to 30. The hardest part for patients with acute pain is to find a doctor who knows how to screen. Concerns about addiction made some doctors not prescribe painkillers recklessly.

All responsibility lies with the patient

Patients with pain are often sent from family doctors to specialists and vice versa. And no one wants to waste time monitoring their continued use of the drug or “qualify” them for what the medical profession calls chronic opioid analgesic therapy. COAT means taking narcotic painkillers for a long time.

This means that patients have to find practitioners who have experience working with patients with chronic pain so that it is convenient for doctors to decide when to prescribe drugs and how to safely control their use.

Unsurprisingly, the main warning signs of addiction risk are the history of illicit drug use or alcohol abuse by the patient or his or her family. Even smoking is considered to be a negative determinant because any addiction causes a potential risk factor for another addiction. There is a long list of factors that may be less predictive, but still important, such as depression or anxiety disorders. This means that the doctor needs to study the patient's entire history very well and don’t rely only on the patient’s answers to some targeted questions.

The doctor has to work more

As soon as patients are qualified for chronic opioid analgesic therapy, doctors should monitor their behavior that can predict or signal about drug addiction. This includes the use of several doctors and pharmacies for prescriptions, as well as an early call for replenishment. Doctors can ask patients to sign drug contracts. They can also assign only short-term recipes and some documents even require urine tests.

Having a patient on narcotic pills is a big job for a cautious physician. This explains why family doctors, also known as general practitioners, can feel pinched in the middle. General practitioners (GPs) are in a deplorable position when specialists put their patients on COAT. But these specialists don’t have time for screening and monitoring. They want to do other procedures, such as back surgery or arthritis treatment. And they send patients back to general practitioners. 

Thus, general practitioners have patients, but they actually don’t know what to do with them. All this leads to the fact that poorly informed doctors designate a lot of prescriptions for narcotic pills.

Addiction requires special treatment

Keep in mind that even if you do not have a psychological addiction on the drug, you are likely to become physically dependent. There are a lot of strong narcotic medications that affect the body's chemistry. When you stop taking painkillers, a withdrawal process often takes place. It may include:

  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • sleeplessness
  • sweating
  • goosebumps
  • rapid heart rate

Doctors often wean patients off narcotic meds gradually, even if they take them for a short time, instead of abruptly rejecting them.

It's quite difficult, but you should try to find a doctor who has experience in pain management and chronic opioid analgesic therapy. They should have a good knowledge of the special literature and know a lot about screening. In other words, a prepared patient must go through the peculiar screening to find an educated and competent doctor. Referrals to a pain clinic, for example, are encouraging, but nothing can replace asking questions in advance and starting with a general practitioner who knows what to prescribe for chronic pain.

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