Opioid Effects on Chronic Pain: What are Opioids
Before truly discussing the opioid effects on pain and risk for addiction, we must understand what an opioid is in general. Opioids are prescription drugs that resemble opium as far as addictive properties and physiological effects. These drugs are most often given for pain from surgery or serious injury. In some cases they are part of a treatment plan for chronic pain sufferers. Opioids do serve a purpose and function, but because of their addictive properties they are highly dangerous.
The irony in opioids is that though they are prescription, they are highly addictive. Despite being prescribed for pain, they often make it worse long term for various reasons. This will be explained a bit further below.
Over time, these types of painkillers cause the pain you feel to actually increase. While opioids are effective short term, a few days after surgery, It is quite the opposite when it comes to long term. For those who take them long term, like four or more weeks, they make you more sensitive to pain which makes your pain worse. This is because opioids block the pain receptors. This is good at first, but to accommodate the body increases the number of receptors so you will feel the pain and ‘fix’ it. If you continue to take the med’s the body will continue to build receptors. It is a self-defeating cycle.
Opioids Mask Emotional Trauma and Pain
Another concern is the ability of opioids to mask emotional trauma and pain. Pain is typically a combination of physical and emotional and it can be hard for the brain to separate them. Each area needs a different type of help. However, opioids can mask the trauma and emotional stuff. This can be made worse if opioids are stopped. Unfortunately it cannot be treated if they are continued.
Painkillers do not build resilience which is what is needed with chronic pain. Resilience is the ability to endure a difficult experience and adapt. Opioids do not force the person to adapt as the pain is blocked. However if the pain is dealt with and a low dose of something else used short term, the body will learn to adapt to current pain levels. This is related to another issue opioids often cause which is effect good sleep. The person who uses opioids long term may be unable to sleep well. Use of the medication wears off and restorative, healing sleep is not attained making problems worse.
Finally, motion is really the best treatment for chronic pain. Unfortunately, opioid use tends to make the person less likely to be up and moving around, especially if an addiction occurs. Instead of strong medications, physical therapy, weight loss, and staying mobile may be best.
Help for Addiction
If you or a loved one have developed an opioid addiction then seeking help at a facility is important. DARA offers an in-patient facility that helps the whole person heal so any emotional or physical issues on top of addiction will be dealt with in an appropriate way so that the patient can be reintegrated back into their daily lives. You are worth so much more than a phone call, but that is a good place to start. Call DARA today.
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