The truth about opioids and safer options for pain relief - Ep. 42

May 23, 2022
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Determining what’s myth and fact about opioid pain medication can be tough. Every community in America has been affected by the opioid crisis. 

An opioid is medicine that is prescribed for pain that attaches to opioid receptors in the brain to block pain signaling. They can be used when the pain is particularly aggressive. There are situations where opioid medication can be helpful, but it’s not the only way to control pain. The problem: opioids can have a euphoric effect and are habit forming.

When people introduce opioids to their bodies, they can develop a tolerance that requires higher doses to experience the same effects. When they stop taking the medication, they feel terrible. That said, some patients need a daily dose to manage chronic pain. It’s a balancing act, and a plan for use should be developed and monitored by a physician.

Drug overdose deaths have reached all-time highs and it’s largely due to the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Physicians have drastically cut opioid prescriptions, yet the numbers continue to rise. People who are addicted to opioids seek the drug elsewhere, mainly on the street. 

More troubling is the fact that the synthetic opioid overdose rate among teens age 14-18 has doubled in the last three years.

What’s driving this dramatic increase and what can be done about it? How do you know if a family member or friend is addicted to opioids?

Catch the conversation in Episode 42, as Dr. G and his guests, John K. Hong, MD and Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP, discuss the opioid overdose epidemic, opioid addiction and safer options for pain relief.


Myths vs. Facts

“The more you take the better they work.” – Myth
Taking too much opioid medication can be counterproductive.

“If you take opioid pain medications for a valid reason, then you can’t get addicted.” – Myth
Your body doesn’t care whether you have a prescription. Your body will adjust to higher levels of opioids and it’s natural for humans to form a dependence on the drug.

“Everyone who takes opioids will get addicted.” – Myth
If people take enough opioids, the human body will adjust to that. But it doesn’t have to become an addiction with a lack of control and impulsivity. Don’t be afraid to use medication that’s properly prescribed to you.

“There are no long-term consequences of using opioid medications.” – Myth
There are potential long-term consequences. Opioids affect the entire body and can cause psychological addiction. 

“You should avoid the use of opioid pain medications altogether.” – Myth
If properly prescribed in the right situation, opioids can be beneficial. However, there are many situations where it may not be.

“Pain medication can’t fix your pain.” – Fact
Pain medication can mask pain, but it’s important to work with your physician to determine the cause of the pain.


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