Are All Prescription Pain Medicines Addictive?

Share
Copy

Question: Are All Prescription Pain Medicines Addictive?

Answer: Whether or not a person becomes addicted to prescription pain medicines depends on the reason the individual's taking the drug, the type of pain they have and the duration of treatment. Many people can become physically dependent on a pain medicine but that doesn't mean that they're addicted.

It's important to make a distinction between addiction and physical dependence. Physical dependence is when someone develops tolerance to a substance or experiences withdrawal when they stop taking that substance abruptly. Addiction is when someone has problems in their life related to using the substance, yet they continue to use this substance despite these problems.

It's also important to remember that there are different kinds of pain and different types of medications. Anti-inflammatory medications such as prescription strength Advil or Motrin don't pose a risk of physical dependence or addiction. Another group of medications is for nerve pain, sometimes called neuropathic pain. These medications include anti-seizure medicines, some types of antidepressants and Imitrex for migraines. They don't typically cause physical dependence or addiction either.

However, a group of drugs called opioids such as Percocet and Oxycontin are used very commonly for pain and present the highest risk for physical dependence. A very small percentage of people whose doctor's prescribe opioids for pain go on to become addicted. So when people talk about pain medicines causing physical dependence they're usually talking about opioids.

How quickly a person may develop physical dependence depends on the formulation of the medication. For example, a drug given through an IV will cause physical dependence faster than pills taken by mouth. Altering the formulation of the drug and using it in a different way such as crushing an Oxycontin pill and injecting it may also lead to addiction.

Next:

null

Is It Ever Appropriate To Take Narcotics For Years To Treat Chronic Pain?

Previous: Is It Safe To Combine Pain Medicine With Sleeping Pills?

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4052232. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4052232. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4052232.
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
Lisa Kudrow
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library | Getty Images
PHOTO: Salvager Eric Schmitt was combing through the wreckage of a convoy of Spanish ships that sank off the coast of Florida in 1715 when he discovered a missing piece from a gold Pyx.
Courtesy 1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels, LLC
PHOTO: Motorists were startled when an axe from a dump truck in front of them flew at their windshield.
Massachusetts State Police/Facebook