Here it is folks, another entry in our series Drug Myths Debunked.
And, as always, these articles are meant to clear the air about specific drugs. They are in no way a recommendation to go and use any of the drugs mentioned.
Prescription Pills, such as painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax, have a time and a place in treating people for certain problems. Because they are legally-obtained, many people think these medications are safe to take. But prescription pills are drugs, nonetheless, and are powerful drugs at that.
Although widespread, addiction to prescription painkillers is also widely misunderstood — and those misunderstandings can be dangerous and frightening for patients dealing with pain.
There are many myths and misconceptions about prescription pills so, below, we have compiled a list of 10 common myths debunked.
1. Myth – If I have withdrawal symptoms when I quit that means that I’m addicted.
Truth – That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are addicted. If you find that you need to take more of your prescription pills for them to have an effect (tolerance) or if you experience withdrawals when you stop taking them, then you are what is known as physically dependent.
Many people mistakenly use the term “addiction” to refer to physical dependence. That includes doctors. Addiction is defined as a chronic disease which involves both obsessive thoughts about using and compulsive use of a drug that produces harm or dysfunction. Furthermore, addiction is the continued use despite negative consequences (i.e. to health, legal problems, and relationships).
2. Myth – Everyone gets addicted to prescription pills such as painkillers and benzos if they take them long enough.
Truth – “The vast majority of people, when prescribed these medications, use them correctly without developing addiction,” says Marvin Seppala, MD, chief medical officer at the Hazelden Foundation, an addiction treatment center in Center City, Minn.
3. Myth – So, if most people don’t get addicted to prescription pills such as painkillers, I can use them without consequence.
Truth – Prescription pills such as painkillers (and any other drug) should only be taken as prescribed. These are powerful, potent drugs and should not be thought of as anything less than that.
4. Myth – Since these are such powerful drugs and potentially dangerous, maybe it’s better to bear the pain than risk addiction.
Truth – Undertreating pain can cause needless suffering. If you have pain, talk to your doctor about it, and if you’re afraid about addiction, talk with them about that, too.
5. Myth – Getting rid of the pain is the only reason to get treatment.
Truth – Pain relief is key, but it’s not the only goal. The goal is functional restoration, meaning being able to tend to activities of daily living, as well as forming friendships and an appropriate social environment.
6. Myth – I won’t get addicted because I’m a strong person.
Truth – Addiction isn’t about willpower or having bad morals. Addiction is recognized as a chronic disease by medical professionals and there is evidence that some people have a genetic predisposition to forming an addiction in their lifetime.
7. Myth – My doctor will make sure that I don’t become addicted.
Truth – Doctors don’t intend for their patients to become addicted but, they may not have much training in addiction, or in pain management. That being said, it is not their intention to get their patients hooked on prescription pills but, their lack of understanding addiction can leave them blind to the potential when treating patients.
8. Myth – Prescription pills are safer than illegal drugs because my doctor prescribed them to me.
Truth – Many prescription pills are as powerful, and maybe even more powerful, than their illegal counterparts. Just because it is something your doctor prescribed to you does not mean that it is completely safe or without side effects and potential harm.
9. Myth – My doctor prescribed it for me, so I must need it.
Truth – Patients should never just accept what their doctor tells them without engaging in a dialogue and asking questions. If you feel that your doctor isn’t listening to your concerns, get a second opinion. Remember, cautious and trustworthy doctors do not automatically write you prescription pills the moment you say you are having anxiety, pain, or difficulty sleeping. They first recommend other options that don’t necessarily involve medications, such as exercise, change in diet, and ways to develop better sleep habits.
10. Myth –If you’re treating real pain, you can’t get addicted to prescription pain killers.
Truth – You certainly can become addicted regardless if your pain is real or you just like the feeling prescription pills give you. In fact, many people who become addicted to pain killers had legitimate pain when they started taking prescription pills. The true goal of pain management is to make the pain manageable. That is, reducing the level of pain from say an 8 to a 3. That way, the pain is tolerable and the patient can continue to participate in their daily activities.
If your loved one is in need of treatment prescription pill addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.