Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Importance of Opioid Dependence Awareness

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Opioid prescription painkillers are typically prescribed for pain management of an injury, after surgery, or chronic pain conditions. As an unintended consequence of proper pain treatment, some people develop opioid dependence, also known as opioid prescription painkiller addiction.

Despite your view on addiction, opioid dependence is a real chronic medical disease that tricks the brain into thinking that the opioid is necessary for survival. It's a major public health issue that affects about two million Americans, and can strike anyone of any age or background. And yet 67% of adults and 35% of doctors say they do not know much about opioid dependence. Awareness is key since just taking a prescription painkiller that you truly need can actually lead to addiction.

I'm not a fan of drugs, prescription or over-the-counter. I avoid them wherever possible and look to natural remedies if I can when ailments arise. However, I realize this isn't always possible, and modern medicine certainly does have a time and place. But the dangers of prescription painkiller addiction are real, and I can attest to that.

A Looming Danger After Surgery

In the last five years I've had three surgeries that have required opioid prescription painkillers afterwards for pain management. I had legitimate pain, and a legitimate need for painkillers each time. The difference between the first surgery (the cesarean birth of my son), and the last two were heightened awareness of my pain management via prescription painkillers. The birth of my beautiful son was a scheduled c-section, which was the right decision for his presentation and I (thankfully) don't regret it. But, the recovery was long, painful, and incredibly difficult. I faithfully took my prescription painkillers as instructed to ward off the pain that would creep in as my next dose was near. 

When my son was three weeks old, there was an occasion where my prescription needed to be refilled. It was a Sunday and the pharmacy had closed early - poor planning on our part for sure. I was frantic, fearing the pain that I would surely experience since I needed those painkillers just to function and care for my son. I spaced out my last couple pills until morning, at which point I realized I was involuntarily shaking before my next dose and I was experiencing unbearable pain over my whole body. With my husband by my side through this all, he gently told me he thought I was starting to depend on my painkillers. Although I was truly in pain, he was right! I was actually showing signs of addiction to my painkillers and I was clearly going down that road. At this point I saw the addiction and dependence my body was creating and it scared me. 

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

 I sprang into action because I wanted off these painkillers, NOW. But I knew I couldn't go cold turkey, because I still had real pain from my c-section and that could have delayed the healing process even more. So, for the next week I spaced out my doses, 15 minutes more apart with each dose. I asked for extra help around the house so I could rest more, and I made a more conscious effort to relax, and focus on healing. I put my mind to it and I got off those painkillers in a week.

With this experience, as dreadful as it was, I was able to recognize the early signs of a developing dependence. My last two surgeries involved just a few days of painkillers, and much faster recoveries. Granted, they were less invasive than my c-section, but in the end, my awareness of the risks of opioid dependence has been key to steering clear of a potential opioid dependence developing in the future.

Seeking Help

There are definitely a lot of misconceptions about opioid dependence and I know that due to my experience. The stigma that surrounds folks that are dealing with opioid dependence is sadly often misguided. The development of an painkiller addiction is often just an unexpected consequence of proper pain treatment and it can strike anyone, even me. If you are, or think you are, struggling with opioid dependence, please know that you are not alone! Reach out to a friend for help or check out, an online resource that allows people to anonymously research opioid dependence, find help and treatment options.

Have you ever experienced the addictive qualities of prescription painkillers?



jen Gersch said...

It's sad, I have seen those in throws of addiction


lmurley2000 said...

I know their is a lot of drug use in America.

caseyrusso said...

I've known people who use painkillers for legit conditions but it becomes a problem over time. There was even an article in a magazine about how moms abuse prescription drugs like crazy just to deal with the stresses of life with kids.