#WellnessWeds: Do the Side Effects of Painkillers Have You Hooked?

I had my first and only major surgery when my son was born via Cesarean section in September. Even though he weighed 8.5 pounds, I don’t think the pain afterwards would have decreased had he weighed any less. I was prescribed a narcotic painkiller to help me feel comfortable during the recovery process. With the permission of my doctor, I could tell it was time for me to stop taking them every four hours and then gradually wean myself off of them for good by listening to my body and paying attention to the side effects of the painkillers.

This is one difference between someone taking a narcotic prescription as directed and the other category of people who abuse prescription narcotic painkillers. In fact, 10 percent of the population is genetically predisposed to addiction, according to Russell Portenoy, chairman of the department of pain medicine and palliative care at Beth Israel Medical Center.

Red Flags

There are certain cues and indicators that a person may have an addiction to painkillers. These include but are not limited to:

  • Narcotics should only ease physical pain (not emotional or mental)
  • Causing a euphoric or a “buzzed” feeling
  • Increasing the amount of painkillers to achieve the same buzzed feeling
  • Using these medications for mild to moderate pain (these should be used only for pain that is moderate to severe)

If one or more of these red flags applies to you, contact your doctor to discuss.

Green Means Go

Here are some painkiller alternatives to consider:

  • Try over-the-counter pain medications before filling a narcotic prescription
  • Talk to your doctor to determine if you’re at risk of becoming addicted to painkillers. He or she may prescribe only a certain number of pills at a time.
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Counseling
  • Undergoing surgery to alleviate the source of the pain

Addiction to pain relievers appears to be on the rise. The good news is that is can be prevented and controlled.

What are some alternatives you use to ease pain?

Source: Shape Magazine Photo credit: LaughingRhoda

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