My doctor prescribed me painkillers. How do I prevent myself from developing a prescription drug addiction?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the abuse of prescription drugs happens only when a person goes beyond the prescription and direction of their doctor. With this in mind, the first way to avoid an addiction to prescription drugs is to follow the instructions provided to you by your doctor. Secondly, stay in communication with your physician. If you have concerns about your prescription, talk to your doctor about them. Third, it's important to educate yourself. Learn about addiction and the signs that come with it. For instance, if you have a desire to take more pills than what you've been prescribed or if you are combining your prescription with other substances, there might be an indication that you are moving towards an addiction. Another area to become educated on is to learn which prescription drugs have high addictive qualities. For instance, opiates, stimulants, and depressants have the potential for addiction. However, if you follow your prescription and the direction of your doctor, then you're likely to remain safe.

Here are some more tips for avoiding addiction to prescription drugs:

Follow the medication's directions

  • Understand the drugs side effects
  • Don't use the prescription drugs of other people
  • Use medication provided to you by a trusted pharmacy
  • Make sure your doctor understands your needs so that you're taking the right drug for your health concern

If you have any concerns about your prescription medication, contact your physician and/or a mental health provider.

Program Manager & Clinical Director, NuLife Recovery

Many people rely on pain relievers to provide a degree of relief from minor to debilitating or chronic pain. However, its abuse has become a major problem in the United States. Before receiving a prescription, your physician must determine whether you’re likely to abuse drugs or develop an addiction, which may include screening for personal or family history of drug abuse. Whenever a person abuses painkillers, they are increasing their chances of developing an addiction. The best course of action is to adhere to your doctor’s recommended dosage and frequency of administration as well as monitor whether or not the medication is effective at managing your pain. If you find that the dosage you received is ineffective, do not take more than your original prescription without first speaking directly to your doctor.

Amimbola Farinde, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
Private Practice

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-772-8219 to start the path to recovery today.

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