Pain & Opiates: Perceptions vs Reality

1.    false: Opiates take pain away completely.
TRUE:  Opiates do not remove chronic pain, they do not numb pain like Novocain, they merely dull it enough so that it isn’t all-consuming.

2.    false: Pain is the body trying to tell you to stop, so you shouldn’t take opiates to cover up the pain signals.
TRUE:  Normal pain is an alarm to take action, but chronic pain happens when the alarm gets stuck in the “on” position – the switch itself is broken.

3.   false: Opiates make you dull, confused, and non-functional.
TRUE:  When used for pain relief, opiates allow people to be more active and functional, get out of the house and socialize, sometimes even continue working.

4.   false: There are other pain medications that work just as well as opiates.
TRUE:  Opiates are the most (and often the only) effective medications for pain.

5.   false: Opiates have severe and permanently damaging side effects.
TRUE:  Opiates have fewer and lesser side-effects than most of the other medications prescribed for pain.

6.   false: You will get addicted if taking opiates.
TRUE:  People taking opiates for pain are statistically unlikely to become addicted unless they already have addictive tendencies (5% chance).  However, regular use of many medications causes dependence after your body has adjusted to them.

7.   false: If you take opiates for too long, you’ll get hyperalgesia.
TRUE:  Opiate-induced hyperalgesia is extremely rare in humans, and this scare tactic is based on just a handful of very small research studies.

8.   false: If the pain is constant, you’ll get used to it and it won’t hurt as much.
TRUE:  Pain that is allowed to persist uncontrolled leads to changes in the nerves that can eventually become permanent.

9.   false: Opiates work the same way for everyone.
TRUE:  Different people get the same amount of pain relief from widely varying dosages because our bodies are all different in the way we “digest” opiates.

10.   false: It’s better not to take opiates because they damage the nervous system and cause hormonal imbalances.
TRUE:  Persistent pain results in the same kind of damages to the nervous and hormonal systems.

11.   false: You should not take opiates because your pain won’t improve.
TRUE:  Chronic pain can only be treated, not cured.  Opiates are often the best means available to treat the devastating pain symptoms until a cure is found.

12.   false: If you start taking opiates, you’ll just have to take more and more forever.
TRUE:  Most chronic pain patients finds a stable dose of opiates that works for them.  If doses need to be increased, it is usually because the pain condition gets worse over time.

13.   false:  People only want opiates for the high.
TRUE:  When taken as prescribed for chronic pain, opiates do not make you “high”.  The same chemicals that make illegal users “high” go toward dulling the pain instead.

14.   false: It’s better to tough it out.
TRUE:  Denying people pain relief sentences them to a life of unnecessary suffering.

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“The patient uses opioids to relieve pain and maintain a normal relationship with the real world;  the addict takes opioids to escape from reality.” – Ronald Melzack

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Many people disabled by chronic pain are unfairly accused of lying and faking

1.  false:  People who complain about chronic pain are just trying to get SSDI.
TRUE:  Most people disabled by pain desperately want to work.  Many had to give up high-level, well-paying positions and now live in poverty on SSDI.  There may some fakers, but this is not a reason to deny SSDI for truly disabling pain.

2. misleading: If injured workers are given opiates they are unlikely to return to work (statistically true)
TRUE:  This is probably because their injuries are serious enough to cause chronic pain and require opiates, not because the opiates are keeping them away from work.

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1. Source for addiction statistic:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/spring11/articles/spring 11pg9.html

2 thoughts on “Pain & Opiates: Perceptions vs Reality

  1. Pingback: 7 Myths about Prescription Painkiller Addiction | EDS Info (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome)

  2. Pingback: Pain & Opiates: Perceptions vs Reality | In Loving Memory Of Jody Ann

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