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In the past, opioids were used only
for short periods for short-term pain or for cancer pain. Many experts now also
use them for longer periods to treat chronic pain. You can take these drugs, which are sometimes called narcotics or opiates, to
reduce pain and increase your functioning without becoming addicted.
Opioids are strong medicines. They are safest when you use them exactly as your doctor prescribes. There is a small risk of addiction when you take opioids. The risk is greater for those who have a history of substance use. Some people have more problems with opioids, including teenagers, older adults, people who have depression, people who have sleep apnea, and those who take high doses of medicine.
Your body gets used to opioids, which may lead to tolerance and physical dependence. These are not the same as addiction.
If you think you may be addicted, talk to your doctor. Signs of addiction include the following:
When you are addicted to painkillers for a long time, withdrawal can be very difficult. But treatment is available to help you through that process.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Current as ofFebruary 7, 2017
Current as of:
February 7, 2017
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
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