According to research published in The Journal of Pain, a person with a history of alcoholism or non-opioid drug abuse is significantly more at risk of Therapeutic Opioid Abuse (TOA), compared with individuals with no such history.
After analyzing patients who were seen for chronic non-cancer pain, it was determined that:
- 25% of patients with no history of substance struggled with TOA.
- That percentage increased sharply to 83% among past substance abusers.
- Overall, the incidence of TOA was 44%.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This research highlights several important considerations about prescription painkillers and substance abuse disorders.
FIRST, prescription opioid pain medications are powerfully addictive – ANYONE can develop a physical dependence that may eventually progress to addiction. In their 2016 report, the American Society of Addiction Medicine reported:
- Currently, TWO MILLION Americans struggle with prescription opioid addiction.
- Nearly SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND more people in America are addicted to heroin.
- 80% of heroin addicts say they started with prescription painkillers.
SECOND, substance abuse disorders are incurable. Addiction causes profound changes within a person’s life, making them forever vulnerable to relapse. People in recovery need ongoing lifestyle modification and support to maintain their sobriety.
THIRD, honesty during recovery is essential if it is to continue. People with a history of addiction should be open with their doctors and dentists when prescription opioids (or benzodiazepines) are offered. Often, your healthcare provider can suggest alternates to opioids that can manage pain without increasing the risk of relapse.
In his book, Some Assembly Required: A Balanced Approach to Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain, Dan Mager had this to say:
“In fact, my need for the opioid painkillers had reawakened an addiction to narcotics that had been in hibernation for over 15 years… My chronic pain gave me medical permission to dive into my real dope of choice, as the serpent of my addiction awoke full force and began to devour me.”
If you or someone you care about is struggling with any type of addictive disorder – alcoholism, illicit drug abuse, or a dependence upon prescription medications, Lasting Recovery intensive outpatient rehab in San Diego can help you restore sobriety, control, and manageability to your life.
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