The greatest fear of someone who is required to take opioids to treat a medical condition is that they will end up addicted. Therefore, what began as a medical issue becomes an existential addiction that reaches far beyond the initial medical condition. Research shows that most opioid usage is safe and without addiction. There are several steps that can be taken to avoid an opiate addiction in the event that one is required to use opiods to treat a condition.
The most important step that someone can take is to know their own personal risk factors before taking opiods. Certain people are more predisposed than others to addiction based on certain factors. These factors can be genetic or psychological, and one should be aware of them before they get a prescription filled. If one has certain predispositions to addiction, one should carefully consider or avoid taking opiates.
Additionally, one should make sure to take the opiate exactly as prescribed. If one is taking the opiate in a different form than the prescription, it fundamentally alters the manner in which the opioid is delivered to the body. For example, if one crushes a pill to inject it into the body, it quickens the delivery of the medication to the body. This increases the need for the opioid and the resulting addiction. It is also important to take opioids at the exact time that they are prescribed and not as necessary when the pain requires it.
Further, one should limit the amount of time which they use opioids. Usage of these substances should be short-term only. The longer they are taken, the greater the chance of addiction. Preferably, the term of usage should be three days or less. Research differs on the amount of time where the risk of addiction sets in, but most researchers agree that usually it is between five and seven days.
The most important safety steps that one can take involve process and protocol. Generally, doctors should not prescribe opioids with vague instructions. Also, one should not start taking opioids without a plan in place to both prevent and deal with addiction if a patient believes that it is beginning. By having the proper safeguards in place ahead of time, a patient can ensure that they are one of the 97 percent of patients that received the benefits of opioids without the addiction.