The Pain-free Myth

At the first sign of pain, are you running for the medicine cabinet and some medicinal relief? You’re not alone. In our culture, we’ve become increasingly unwilling to tolerate even minor pain. While we aren’t willing to live with any sort of physical discomfort, we’ve become increasingly comfortable with taking medication – even strong prescription painkillers.

The problem is that after just a few months of taking these medications, a change occurs. The pills become less effective, with patients typically report getting only about 30 percent pain relief, down significantly from when they began their pain meds regimen. Worse yet, some of these patients develop a condition known as hyperalgesia, which is an increased sensitivity to pain.

CNN’s medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, recently spoke out about this issue, warning that this is how well-meaning individuals end up taking more and more pills. This misuse can lead to dependence or, in the most extreme cases, overdose and death. And alcohol exacerbates the problem even further.

Gupta refused to apologize for seeming dramatic or scary, instead saying he wished he “had been this dramatic years ago.” He then acknowledged that it’s easier for “a doctor to write a prescription than to explore other effective options to combat pain. And it is easier for patients to take those prescription pills than to search for alternatives themselves. Both those things must absolutely change.”

He’s not the only one advocating change. Many medical and treatment professionals are waging the same battle. If you or someone you love needs treatment for an addiction and co-occurring disorder, call The Oaks at La Paloma at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.

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