Drug Addiction Likely When Opioids Are Used for Stomach Pain

Drug Addiction Likely When Opioids Are Used for Stomach Pain

Pain management improves the quality of life of an individual struggling with chronic disease or other health issues. When opioids are used for pain management, however, the individual is at a higher risk for drug abuse and even death.

This post in the Examiner explored the significant rise in deaths as a result of drug overdoses. Such headlines traditionally referred to the overuse of drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Today, the headlines focus on deaths as a result of prescription opioids. Fatal opioid overdoses are outnumbering deaths from cocaine and heroin combined, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

A HealthDay News report highlighted a new trend in pain medication – using opioids to treat chronic stomach pain. A new study on opioid painkillers found that this approach to treating chronic stomach pain more than doubled between 1997 and 2008. The increase in prescriptions written was predominately found at outpatient clinics, drawing the concern of those who monitor the industry.

One red flag is the lack of evidence to support opioid use in the treatment of chronic pain not related to cancer. Opioids are one of the most frequently misused and often abused prescription medications, one that can easily cause additional problems in patients, including vomiting, nausea, constipation and increased abdominal pain.

Drug addiction to prescription medications can easily intensify when the medication is only mildly successful in treating the condition for which it was prescribed. When only small benefits are delivered, patients may seek increases in medication to try and close the gap between relief and pain. Dosage amounts grow until drug addiction sets in and a fatal overdose becomes more likely.

To prevent such an addiction, opioids should be used for pain management only when properly managed and monitored by a physician.

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