Why Do People Abuse Pain Medication-From “Freedom From Suffering Now” Posted on June 8, 2015 by Dr. Steve Grinstead
So why do people end up abusing their pain medication? In my opinion one end of the spectrum is under-treated pain, especially when we’re talking about chronic pain. For some of the chronic pain patients I have worked with, either they or their doctors were too afraid to prescribe opiate medication—opioid-phobia—or they wouldn’t prescribe a high enough dose. Please check out my Video Blog and then read the remainder of my post.
Now I know caution must be used when prescribing this type of medication, especially for someone with a history, or family history, of alcoholism or other addiction. But even for this population under-medicating my actually cause more damage bio-psycho-socially than using the medication, and for someone in addiction recovery it could lead to a relapse.
A big reason other chronic pain patients eventually get in trouble is due to too conservative treatment and being able to access effective pain management interventions. For example many people weren’t given adequate treatment early on. In fact many times relatively inexpensive treatments were denied and later on it cost much more in the long run.
On the other end of the spectrum the big reason people develop substance use disorders when taking pain medication is they don’t do anything else for pain management. They become passive pill-taking recipients instead of proactive participants in their pain management.
Most of the research on best practice treatment for chronic pain recommends an integrated multidisciplinary approach—treating the whole person. Unfortunately, due to HMOs Managed Care and lack of insurance, pills are often used as the quick fix.