There has been a great deal in the news about painkiller addiction recently, but what exactly are we talking about and how bad is the problem in the UK? With much focus on the epidemic in America, we Brits are catching up fast with our use of opioids from painkillers. To help us understand this growing addiction, we spoke with Lovelong House Clinical Services Manager, Brendon Faulkner who has over twenty years of experience working with addiction and mental health:
It is where people become physically dependent; the need to take more and more of the drug to get the same effect. This can form an addiction; which can then spiral into massive problems for people’s lives. Sometimes even leading to fatality.
Whilst heroin use is still high, an increase in the use of prescription/over the counter medication has definitely increased a lot recently. In fact, it’s reported to have doubled in the last 15 years.
Okay, it’s a fair assumption to say that if you are unfortunate enough to break your leg, for instance, you’re going to need some pain relief; right? This is known as a type of ‘acute pain’, which obviously needs some pain relief. There is no doubt that opiates are very effective for this type of pain; it works well while your leg is healing.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, is a different story and the use of opiates to treat it can be a slippery slope. This is because cutting edge research has shown that it can create a rebound effect.
With long term use not only do opiate drugs stop working effectively to dull pain but over time they actually start feeding and nourishing the pain (paradoxical hyperalgesia). In essence, the chemicals that relate to pain in our bodies can actually increase so people end up in more pain. Therefore, an individual can crave more and more of the drug. Another risk is that opiates can alleviate emotional pain, also making it very difficult for people to come off painkillers.
An increase in awareness and education among both the general public and the medical industries is a good starting point. More emphasis on looking at different ways to treat chronic pain such as the use of biofeedback therapy, holistic therapies and other proven therapies.
Another complication can be the effect of opiates on emotional pain. Which can further make it very difficult for people coming off painkillers. Opiates have the effect of slowing everything down, yet for treating pain becoming more active (such as taking part in yoga), is a natural painkiller and highly effective in the long term.
For more information or if you are concerned about painkiller addiction, please contact us for a free assessment here at Lovelong House.
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