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Nearly 11.5 million people abused prescription opioids in 2016, and the number of abusers continues to grow. A single prescription for opiate painkillers can turn into a severe addiction in the blink of an eye, and that is why all patients need to be careful with these powerful substances. Here are a few steps that you can take to avoid any dependency problems with your painkillers.

Ask for a Smaller Prescription

Most experts agree that the vast majority of patients only need to take prescription opiates for one or two days after an invasive procedure. Getting prescribed dozens of pills is only going to increase your risk of becoming dependent on opioids. Within 48 or 72 hours, you should be able to transition to non-addictive pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If the pain is still severe after a few days, then you need to contact your doctor for a follow-up appointment

Explore Alternative Pain Relief Methods

In addition to over-the-counter painkillers, you should also try out a few natural pain relief methods. Options such as meditation and guided breathing can stimulate the production of “feel good” chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. You can also use topical analgesics that interrupt nerve impulses or completely numb the area. Before using any topical or oral painkillers, you must first speak with your doctor about potential side effects. Most of those products are very mild, but they could result in secondary complications if you aren’t careful.

Follow All Aftercare Instructions

Your doctor should give you clear aftercare instructions well before the day of your operation, and it is absolutely vital that you follow all of their directions. Trying to mask the pain with opioids instead of focusing on your overall health will drastically increase your risk of an addiction. Holistic treatments such as acupressure, massage therapy, and physical therapy can help you overcome your discomfort and avoid unwanted health problems.

Keep an Eye out for Dependency or Tolerance Issues

Developing an opiate tolerance is completely natural, but you should keep an eye out for any signs that an addiction might be just around the corner. Those who are becoming addicted to opioids often feel a need to increase their dosage without consulting with a doctor. Some patients also begin mixing their opiates with other depressants such as alcohol. Catching those warning signs early on is going to help you avoid major addiction issues down the road.

An opiate addiction can bring your life to a grinding halt in a matter of weeks, and you need to immediately seek out help if you notice any signs that you might have a problem with your prescriptions. Recovery centers, like Brightside Clinic, tend to offer a wide variety of services that can help you to safely overcome your addiction and move on with your life.