If you are committed to a life free of mind-altering substances, should you ever take prescription opiate medication? What if you are in a lot of pain and need these strong medications in order to cope? What if you are at the end of your life and your doctor feels you need opiates to be comfortable. These are questions that you are likely to have to face at least once in the future, so it is important that you think about this issue now.
The Danger of Prescription Opiate Medication
Prescription opiate medication is dangerous, which is why it is so carefully controlled. When it is stored in a pharmacy, it needs to be kept secure and monitored using precise legal guidelines. These precautions are necessary because these medications are the same class of drug as heroin and are far more potent (in fact, diamorphine is a pure form of heroin). Doctors are only meant to prescribe opiates when there is no other option because of the risks associated with this medication. These can include:
- being highly addictive substance
- triggering respiratory arrest
- causing extreme drowsiness that can last up to 7 days
- interfering with a person’s ability to think clearly
- uncomfortable itching
- triggering constipation
- leading to a condition called opioid-induced hyperalgesia in which the person experiences even more pain because of taking the medication.
Doctors are aware of the dangers of opiate medication, which is why they are obliged to follow strict guidelines when it comes to prescribing the drug. The problem is that the addictive nature of the substance means that it can easily lead to problems. This is especially likely to happen with those individuals who have previously suffered from addiction problems. There are many stories of individuals who were in recovery but later relapsed by becoming addicted to prescription drugs.
It is doubtful that many people set out to become addicted to prescription drugs. What usually happens is that the person begins taking them but notices that he or she enjoys the pleasant side effects. This can include a feeling of euphoria, comfort, and freedom from all troubles. Initially, the person takes the drug as prescribed, but there can be a temptation to keep taking the medication to enjoy the pleasurable effects. Once the person becomes hooked, he or she then becomes willing to doctor shop and exaggerate symptoms in order to get their hands on more of the drugs. If the person is unable to quit at this stage, it is usually only a matter of time before they end up seeking out a drug dealer.
The Need for Prescription Opiates
Living with severe pain obviously involves a great deal of suffering, but opiate drugs offer a solution to this; it would be unethical to not offer these drugs to those who need them if there is no better option. If you have severe pain then it could make things unbearable, so it is probably not realistic to say that you will never take them.
The one thing that is important when dealing with prescribed opiate medication is that you let the doctor know about your history of addiction. It is also important that you feel confident that the physician understands the implications of your previous addiction as not all of them do. You will probably want to discuss your options and talk to the doctor about any alternatives to opiates. It is also a good idea to make it clear to your doctor that you only want to be using opiates for the shortest possible time.