There are a number of ways to reduce your pain, ranging from hard core narcotics to rest and everything in-between. We’re all aware of the dangers of prescription narcotic use, but most of us don’t think we’ll ever have a problem, and many of us think we don’t have a problem…when we do.
Some patients have a predisposition to drug and alcohol addiction. I’m not talking about those patients. A few doctors are supplying drug users/sellers with narcotic scripts for profit. Not talking about them, either.
I’m focusing on patients who inadvertently get “hooked” on narcotics because they’re suffering from a painful condition and simply need pain relief. Their caring doctors inadvertently continue to give them pain pills, thinking they’re doing their patients a service. This is a complicated subject and a complicated relationship.
Here are some quick tips to reduce the use of narcotics when/if that time comes.
- Don’t take narcotics as often as it says on the prescription. You might get a script for some acetaminophen and narcotic combination like Tylenol #3, Norco or Percocet. It might say something like “Take 1-2 every 6-8 hours as needed for pain.” Everybody’s needs are different, but many patients will just go ahead and take two, every 6 hours because they think they’re experiencing a lot of pain. Studies show that one out of every five patients who do this will become addicted. Don’t take them regularly. Start out with only one. Take them as infrequently as you possibly can.
- Recognize that pain is your body’s way of telling you something’s injured. It’s okay to let it remind you of that fact! Short of sedating yourself into respiratory arrest, there’s no way you’re going to be 100% relieved of pain. Don’t expect that.
- Sit back, relax and take the pain for a little while. Don’t take another pill the minute your pain starts escalating. It’s okay to suffer a little.
DO NOT take pain pills so that you can do something like go to work, school or clean house. If you need a pain pill in order to work, then you still need to stay home. Taking narcotics in order to be able to do some activity is the fastest track to addiction. Narcotics work by sedating your brain. That’s supposed to make you rest, and rest is what you need, and in turn… Resting diminishes your requirement for narcotics!
- STOP taking pain pills when your pain becomes tolerable… and please, tolerate a little pain. Switch to Tylenol or Advil or nothing! That might be the day after your surgery or injury! You don’t have to take the pain pills just because your doc ordered them.