Opioids are a class of potent painkillers that includes drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin. Since the Drug Quality and Security Act and the Drug Supply Chain Security Act was passed in 2013, prescription medications have become much safer. What is the meaning of the DQSA/DSCSA? Simply put, the two acts put tougher restrictions and enable more oversight on drug manufacture and distribution. However, it did not eliminate all risks. Though opioids can greatly improve quality of life for people suffering from severe or chronic pain, they can still be highly addictive for some people. Fortunately, the majority people who take opioids do so without getting addicted. There are actions you can take to further reduce your risk of getting addicted to your medication.

Opioid Abuse: 4 Ways To Avoid Addiction

Understand What Addiction Really Entails

Opioid dependence is not the same thing as opioid addiction. Most people who take opioids for more than a few days will develop dependence to them. Dependence simply means that the person will experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking them. Addiction occurs when the craving for your medication gets out of control, and you start to use it beyond what you need to relieve pain. Warning signs of addiction include not taking your drug exactly as prescribed, taking the medicine for reasons other than what your doctor prescribed it for, missing school or work due to your drug, or not being honest about your use of the drug.

Take Your Medication Exactly as Prescribed

Taking your medication exactly as prescribed is a crucial component of avoiding opioid addiction. Take the right dose at the right time. Don’t save doses for later, don’t take extra doses, and do not split pills in half unless your doctor instructs you to do so.

Don’t Stop Your Medication on Your Own

Suddenly stopping an opioid medication not only produces very unpleasant effects, but it can actually increase your chances of becoming addicted, as many people start taking it again in excess once they start experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which can include shaking, sweating, diarrhea, and more. Talk to your doctor about slowly tapering off of your medication.

Seek Help at the First Signs of Addiction

If you start to suspect that you are developing an addiction to your medication, it’s crucial to get help right away. Tell your doctor so that he or she can refer you to a substance addiction specialist. Stop an addiction at the first signs, before it has the chance to spin completely out of control.

Living with pain is difficult, and everyone deserves to live without pain. By using your prescribed medication in a safe and responsible manner, you can reduce your suffering with little chance of falling into drug abuse.