Pain Meds – How NOT to Get Hooked

Any body can have pain that needs to be eased. Unfortunately, US healthcare has created an epidemic of addicts instead. It’s time to STOP this madness. Some are trying, but we all need to pitch in. Don’t think you need this? Think again!

  • In 2010, 1 out of 20 people over age 12 said they used a prescription painkiller for another reason. That’s 5% of our US population, people!
  • 7,000 people go to the emergency room EVERY DAY for this.
  • 44 people DIE every day from an overdose of pain meds.
  • You (or your family) can become addicted with ONE prescription.

Which Pain Meds?

Most of the problems come from a family of drugs called opioids. The most common opioids include: Hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), Oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin), Oxymorphone (e.g., Opana), codeine, and Methadone (especially when prescribed for pain). Addictions can also start from benzodiazepines that include Alprazolam (e.g., Xanax), Diazepam (e.g., Valium), and Lorazepam (e.g., Ativan).

Who is at risk?

In a word, everyone. Older people, patients with chronic diseases or cancers, adults of all kinds, and kids (even newborns). BTW, pain meds affect women differently than men. I found out how pervasive these problems are at a CTAF meeting on migraines (disclosure: I’m an Advisory Board member). Their report urges health systems and societies to educate patients and healthcare providers (medical staff), and CTAF created guides to help.

“…migraine patients in emergency departments (EDs)…receive opioids over 50% of theCDC women pain addiction
time, even though…strong evidence shows that opioids offer no short term benefits compared to other treatment options and raise the long-term risk of exacerbating migraines and of contributing to opioid dependence.”

CTAF 2014 Controversies in Migraine Management report

What YOU Can Do

CDC when prescription is problemIf you or your loved one take prescription painkillers, ask questions and talk with your doctor(s) and family. Questions like:

  • What is the goal of taking this prescription?
  • How long should I take these drugs?
  • Are there any risks to me from these pills?
  • What do I do with extra pills?

Learn how to:

  1. Manage pain.
  2. Know possible risk factors that can lead to overuse.
  3. Stop taking pain meds as soon as your pain gets better.
  4. Use the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) guide on how to get rid of unused prescriptions.
  5. If you have or suspect a problem, check the signs of pain meds abuse. Contact 1-800-662-HELP. If you have questions about specific medicines, call1-800-222-1222.
  6. The US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also discusses drug addiction treatment.


CDC rx-painkillers-sales-and-deaths-700wIf you treat/care for patients
, PLEASE look at this CDC information (presentation and summary). Then LIMIT prescriptions and use lowest doses, TALK with patients about how to stop/store/dispose of pain meds, and AVOID combination prescriptions.

“Patients in pain need help, not addictions.” Deborah Collyar

If you can influence government/healthcare systems (i.e. everyone), help develop coherent state policies and Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) that don’t discriminate against patients who really need pain meds. Research on pain meds is being done by NIDA and other sources. Other research articles in this area are available here. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been working on this since at least 2006.

Mathematics of Pain Relief

Mathematics of Pain Relief

“Reduce abuse and overdose of opioids and other controlled prescription drugs while ensuring patients with pain are safely and effectively treated.”

CDC 2012 Goal

You only have to hear one of the many heartbreaking stories to get the message. Please spread the word. We can all help solve this problem.

All content © 2015 by Deborah Collyar unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.