Facts and myths about opioid pain medications
Determining what is true or not true about opioid pain medications can be tough. You may hear or read information that might be confusing when trying to decide the best way to treat your chronic pain.
1. Myth: The more you take the better they work. Fact: More does not equal better. Over time, people build up a tolerance to pain medicine. Taking too much pain medicine can cause tolerance to happen quicker and your chronic pain may actually get worse.
2. Myth: If you take opioid pain medications for a valid reason, you can't get addicted. Fact: Opioid pain medications have a highly addictive nature. Anyone can be at risk of developing an addiction to these medications, especially if they are taken for a long period of time. To avoid increasing the risk of becoming addicted to these types of medications, it is important to use them only as prescribed.
3. Myth: Everyone who takes opioids will get addicted. Fact: It depends largely on your own personal risk of addiction. That’s why your doctor may ask questions about your risk factors: a family history of addiction, a personal history of alcohol and drug abuse, or certain psychiatric disorders.
4. Myth: There are no long term consequences of using opioid medications. Fact: Addiction is not the only risk associated with long term use of opioid medications. These medications can alter the way hormones work in your body which can affect things such as your mood or libido, or even increase your risk of osteoporosis. Opioid medications can also cause chronic constipation which may lead to serious health problems such as bowel obstruction.
5. Myth: You should avoid use of opioid pain medications altogether. Fact: There are a lot of risks associated with use of opioids, but when used carefully for short periods of time, opioids can be effective ways to manage pain. It is important to always take these medications exactly as prescribed and work closely with your doctor in trying to find other effective ways to help manage your pain.
6. Myth: Pain medication can fix your pain. Fact: Pain medication can mask the symptom of pain, but doesn't do anything to fix the actual problem causing the pain. Your doctor will be working towards determining the cause of the pain. It is important to follow the advice of your doctor and other health care providers when managing the problem. For example, follow up with physical therapy recommendations, do regular exercises if advised, or work towards weight loss.