By Vivien Bergl, LCSW, CEAP
Solutions Employee Assistance Program Coordinator
We have talked about the definition of chronic pain, coping strategies for you, friends, and family members, and resources available to you.
This week we are going to talk about the issue of pain medicine dependence and addiction. Daily we pick up the paper or listen to the radio and hear yet again about another famous person in sports, acting, or politics who is addicted to pain medication and needs rehabilitation. We hear about doctors who are charged with the illegal distribution of pain medication.
People often use opioids -- also called opiates or narcotics -- for pain relief. When people use narcotics only to control pain, they are unlikely to become addicted to the drugs. It is common for people to be confused about the difference between physical dependence and addiction. Physical dependence only means that your body needs the medication and you have symptoms when you do not take it. Addiction includes a psychological (or mental) craving for the medication that can lead to self-destructive behavior. Opioids provide an intoxicating high when injected or taken orally in high doses. Opioids are also powerful anxiety relievers. Due to these effects, narcotics are the most common drugs of abuse in the United States.
Addiction is avoidable. It is important to educate yourself about the type of medication you or a family member is taking. Are you or a family member becoming preoccupied with the medication, thinking about how soon you can take more or worrying excessively that you may run out? Are you or a family member taking it to get high or relieve anxiety? Is the drug becoming the most important thing in your or your family member’s life? Are you or the family member seeking it out from other sources than the doctor prescribing it? Seek help if this is the case. There is treatment for addiction. Even after the person goes through drug withdrawal, the psychological dependence can continue and needs to be addressed in treatment.
If you would like to talk to someone about this or another issue, please contact Solutions Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Call Solutions EAP at 1-800-526-3485 for assistance for all life’s challenges.
It is free, confidential, and open to family members.
Check us out online at http://www.solutions-eap.com
Laurie L. Zlotowski, A.S. | EAP Administrative Assistant
Solutions EAP | 883 Paddock Avenue, Suite 2 | Meriden, CT | 06450
Tel 1.800.526.3485 | Fax 203.379.2048 | Web: www.solutions-eap.com