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Addiction To Pain Medication

After a serious medical intervention, particularly ones involving surgery or implantation, it is customary to prescribe pain medication, just enough to last about a week or two, depending on the severity of the surgery. The shortest amount of time is chosen to make sure that patients do not become addicted to the pain killing medication, as most of the times, severe pain can only be countered by opiates or opioids, or drugs that are synthesized to do the same thing as opiate based pain medication. But what if we start to feel the negative effects of addiction even after a short period of time? Below I would like to give a short definition of what addiction is, and what to do if you feel it. 

The Nature Of Addiction

It is important to understand the difference between addiction, dependence and tolerance. These things are intertwined, and it is hard to separate one from the other, but they are, in the end, distinct entities. Dependence is when your body needs the substance, and lapses into withdrawal if it does not get the required substance. You may not even feel it or know that you are experiencing withdrawal; for instance, most of these synthetic opioids I am talking about will just have headache or fatigue as the withdrawal symptoms, a walk in the park compared to Trainspotting, eh?

Developing a tolerance for a substance is not the same as being addicted to it, or being dependent on it, it simply means that more of a given substance is needed in order to get the same effects. This does not mean that the person is addicted or dependent, it just means that their body has some type of tolerance towards the substance in question. With opioids and pain medication, tolerance usually goes hand in hand with dependence, but this is not a necessary truth, and there are many instances of this not being the case.

Addiction is first and foremost a behavioral issue, and not a biological one. Addiction is when you have your day structured and your life structured in a way that it revolves around a substance, i.e: you know that at 14:00, you will take your codeine, and you get jittery at 13:00, knowing that the hour draws near, and all day long you stare at the clock for 14:00 to come around, than you are addicted to codeine. 

What To Do

The most important thing is to be honest, first and foremost with yourself, but also with everyone else, especially your doctor. Your doctor can get you help, or can give you something that is less habit forming, but in order for him to do that, you need to be honest with yourself and know that you have a problem. And that si sometimes difficult, but if you see that you habitually use the medication, than you can be sure you are addicted and need to kick the habit.