Pain is an ever-present issue in today’s world. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that approximately 50 million people are struggling with chronic pain of some form.
That’s not even including all the people who are dealing with long-term, but not chronic, pain, like from injuries or surgeries.
In today’s advanced scientific age, we’ve been able to solve a lot of medical mysteries. And while we’ve become far more adept at treating pain than we were in the past, there still isn’t an end-all solution.
To add salt to the wound, some of the most effective medications at managing pain are highly addictive and pose long-term risks.
So what does a person do when they’re stuck between a rock (pain) and a hard place (the dangers of pain medication)?
Educate yourself before agreeing to any treatment
Educating and advocating for yourself are two of the most important things you can do in regard to your health.
Rather than blindly agree to a treatment or medication, ask your doctor detailed questions about the side effects and addictive tendencies of the medication. Has your doctor ever prescribed this before? How did their other patients handle it? Have they prescribed it for your specific condition before?
Also, inquire about the dosage and time frame the doctor has in mind. Is that dosage typical for your condition? How long are they wanting you to stay on this medication? Is there a plan in place so you don’t have to be on this medication for the rest of your life?
Also, ask how this medication would interfere with any other medications you’re taking, and if there’s a possibility you may have to take another medication in the future to supplement this one. People’s list of medications can quickly add up, so you want to make sure you know all the facts upfront.
If you feel like your doctor isn’t giving you enough detailed information, don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Your body is yours alone, and you’re in charge of making sure you’re giving it the best chance possible.
Find support from people who share your condition or pain
In addition to asking medical professionals, you can see if there are any support groups or websites set up as a community for other people who have your condition or are experiencing similar pain. Here, you’ll be able to ask questions and get firsthand accounts of the side effects they’ve experienced.
If you go the route of online communities, keep in mind that these are not doctors or medical professionals. They could have a host of other medical issues going on that make their medical experience different than yours. However, it’s a good place to see if there are any patterns of common side effects or negative responses to medication.
Additionally, it can be extremely reassuring to have a group of people who know exactly what you’re going through. Having this support can go a long way in helping keep your mental health up as you navigate your pain journey.
Seek help if you need it
Now, say you’ve done all of the above, but you’ve still found yourself in an unhealthy situation with your pain medication. Maybe you’ve been taking more than you’re prescribed, or you feel like you’ve developed an unhealthy dependency on it.
In this case, don’t be afraid to ask for help. When seeking help for pain medication addiction, it’s often that the sooner you address the issue, the easier it is to treat. Imagine if you waited another five years before telling anyone you need help—it’d be a much worse situation, wouldn’t it?
In this case, you can either speak with a therapist or reach out to a pain management or opioid and opiate rehab center. The professionals at these facilities will be able to help you get a handle on your medication regimen, and also address any underlying issues that contributed to your addictive tendencies.