length of opioid prescription

Length of Opioid Prescriptions and Opioid Addiction

Length of Opioid Prescriptions and Opioid Addiction

Every day, people who were only seeking a little pain relief unwittingly become addicted to opioids.

Most get prescriptions from their doctors following surgery or an injury. Many seek relief for ongoing back pain. Some borrow pills from friends just to take the edge off after a stressful day at work. None ever plan on getting hooked.

In 2016, 66% of all fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. involved an opioid. What was only an area of concern in the late ‘90s is now a full-blown crisis.

If you’re worried about your opioid habit, you may have reached out to us just in time. Keep reading to find out how your lawmakers and the professional caregivers at Desert Cove Recovery can help you.

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Limiting the Length of Opioid Prescription

In an effort to stop this epidemic, mental health experts and politicians want to limit the number of doses that patients can get at one time. Several states have passed laws on prescription lengths. The CVS pharmacy chain recently announced that it will only dispense seven days’ worth of opioids at a time.

The idea behind shorter prescriptions is to take unnecessary pills out of circulation. Limiting doses will result in less potential for abuse. Even people who use painkillers responsibly fail to properly dispose of the extras; stockpiles in home medicine cabinets are tempting.

Finding the magic number is no easy task. In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the recommended length of opioid prescription is three to seven days. Some experts challenge those numbers, pointing out that they are far too conservative for major surgeries like hysterectomies. They also argue that unreasonably short prescriptions will only prompt patients to get refills.

There’s no easy fix, but the opioid addiction crisis has everyone’s attention. That’s a good thing.

Understanding Opioid Addiction

Prescription opioids are closely related to morphine, codeine and heroin. Commonly used opioids include methadone, hydrocodone and fentanyl. One of the most frequently prescribed remedies, oxycodone, is twice as powerful as morphine.

Synthetic opioids attach to receptors in the brain so that your perception of pain is altered. If you have a legitimate need for them on a short-term basis, they’re a godsend. However, they have great potential for becoming addictive. 

Synthetic Opioids are Addictive

Dopamine is a natural feel-good chemical that gives you a warm sense of pleasure and reward when you’re enjoying yourself. In mentally healthy people, it’s always at just the right dose.

In addition to relieving pain, opioids signal your brain to increase production of dopamine. The excess might result in a rush of intense euphoria. There’s a severe letdown when the sensation wears off.

People become addicted to opioids when they try to duplicate that initial high by increasing the dose or combining pills with other drugs like alcohol. The body quickly builds tolerance, and the vicious cycle of addiction begins.

That’s why lawmakers are so concerned about doctors over-prescribing painkillers. The practice results in millions of loose pills being abused or falling into the wrong hands.

Are You Addicted?

You may have an opioid addiction if you’ve experienced even one of these symptoms:

  • Taking opioids after your pain has subsided
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Taking opioids that aren’t prescribed to you
  • Trying without success to stop
  • Using opioids recreationally
  • Combining opioids with other substances
  • Craving opioids when you’re not using them
  • Lying about opioid use
  • Becoming defensive when friends or family members express concern
  • Sleeping during waking hours
  • Experiencing irritability, mood swings or depression

Your chances of becoming addicted are significantly higher if you have a mental problem such as depression, anxiety or eating disorder. You’re also at greater risk if anyone in your family struggles with substance abuse. Traumatic events in your past, like divorce, domestic violence or rape, will also make you more susceptible to opioid addiction.

Getting Help for Addiction

Substance abuse can start with one bad decision, but after that, the painkillers take over. Like other drugs, they teach your brain to crave them.

Drug addiction is a chronic disease with no cure, but it can be managed just like asthma or diabetes can. Just as people become addicted every day, people start to recover every day.

Choosing Desert Cove Recovery for Help With Opioid Addiction

Our caregivers at Desert Cove Recovery have years of experience with people just like you. Our comprehensive treatment plans utilize time-tested approaches that help recovering addicts stay clean for good:

  • The 12-step model
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Group meetings
  • Holistic approaches such as prayer, meditation, yoga, art, music or massage
  • Exercise classes and outdoor activities
  • Nutritional instruction

With professional help, you can break free from the grip of opiate addiction. Call Desert Cove Recovery today to speak with a caring counselor. We’ll tailor a unique treatment plan that’s just right for you.