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What Do I Do If I’m Addicted to a Medication I Need?

What Do I Do If I’m Addicted to a Medication I Need?

When recovering from an injury, there is concern for individuals becoming addicted to medication prescribed for pain management

Particularly when recovering from an injury, there is a huge concern for individuals around becoming addicted to the medication that is prescribed for pain management. This is a valid concern, and statistics have previously indicated that legitimate prescription drug use can lead to abuse and addiction for many individuals. Indeed, many athletes have found themselves battling an addiction on the back end of trying to recover from an injury.

Understanding the Difference Between Addiction and Tolerance

There is a significant difference between tolerance and addiction, and this is vitally important to understand in the context of pain management. Often, what is seen as addiction is actually tolerance.

Tolerance is the normal process of your body growing accustomed to a given medication over time. Your body becomes used to having a certain level of this pain medication over time. As a result of this familiarity, your body will require more of the medication to accomplish the same level of pain relief.

It is this increase in medication that often triggers worries about an addiction, but it is not necessarily an indicator of addiction. If your immediate response to increased tolerance were to call your physician to discuss pain management techniques, this would actually be a strong indicator of tolerance. On the contrary, if you begin to rationalize taking extra pills and not discussing it with your doctor, you may need to be concerned about an addiction.

Always Start with Your Physician

It is never appropriate for you to make dosage adjustments up or down without discussing the changes with your physician. The risks of overmedicating or entering unsafe withdrawals are far too high. Your doctor has advanced training in this scenario, and will be able to provide you the appropriate level of guidance. Options she may discuss with you would include:

  • Slowly titrating you off your current medication while building up a new medication with a different mechanism of action
  • Moving toward an increase in physical therapies to build strength around the source(s) of your pain
  • Stopping the medication in a supervised manner to observe any potential withdrawal symptoms while continuing to manage your pain

Your doctor can help you find pain management options that are less addictive to reduce your risk of substance abuse. Acupuncture can be an effective way to reduce pain, as can other alternative therapies such as massage, meditation and mindfulness. By augmenting your prescription pain medication with other forms of pain management, you may be able to stay on a low does of medication and greatly reduce your addiction risk. Also, physical therapy, massage and certain types of strength building exercise may help to decrease you pain over time, so you no longer need as much medication.

Seek Out Community Support Resources

If your physician finds that you are addicted, there are a variety of resources available in your community to provide you the support you need to battle the addiction. Many find solace, strength, and support in a spiritual advisor of some sort. A pastor, priest, or rabbi is often able to provide a source of peace and perspective that could be difficult to find alone. Along a similar line, seeking out a counselor could prove to be beneficial.

Community 12-Step programs are also profoundly effective in some cases. These groups are built upon a commitment to foundational steps toward recovery. You can look for local meetings in the Des Moines area that fit your specific addiction and needs.

Seek Professional Treatment

Unfortunately, some individuals are not able to manage the combination of pain and regular drug use as prescribed by a physician, and find themselves stuck in a rut of addiction. If you find yourself here, the most important thing to know is that there is no shame in admitting that you need help.

Literally thousands upon thousands of people battle addictions every day, and many win that battle once they find the proper type of support to help them. If you find that community support structure are not enough and you can’t beat the addiction, don’t give up; the risks and the cost are simply too high. If this is where you find yourself right now, you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about addiction. They can help you find your way.