Have you discovered that you cannot do without the pain pills that were prescribed for you by the family doctor? Maybe it’s your dentist who writes a prescription for Vicodin or Percocet for you every time you’ve got a painful dental issue.

The people who study factors that contribute to opioid addiction have discovered that one of the biggest dangers of addiction comes from the good old family doctor. People do not believe that doctors will write out a prescription for a medication that is dangerous. How can it be harmful to take pain pills if the doctor gave them to you?

Even when people borrow pain pills from a family member—or just take them out of the family medicine cabinet—they dismiss the possibility that any pill dispensed by a pharmacy would actually harm them. But the truth is that narcotic pain pills cause dangerous opioid addiction that could ruin your life.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Medical Association are educating physicians, dentists, and other prescribing professionals that pain pills should be ordered only sparingly. They are urging prescribers to consider non-medication options for treating pain.

In the past, narcotic pain pills were prescribed only when someone had a painful, terminal illness such as cancer or if the person sustained injuries in a serious traumatic accident. The companies that manufacture those drugs spent a lot of time and money convincing doctors that narcotic pain pills were not addictive. Now the doctors are advised not to prescribe those medications but they are reluctant to change their practices once again, and frankly, many of them simply do not like being told what they can and cannot prescribe.

In today’s harried world, doctors go into an examining room, ask as few questions as possible, and order whatever prescription will most quickly get them on to the next patient. Even when a doctor knows the patient for a long time they seldom question the person about their potential for abusing medication. If you have used drugs recreationally in the past, you could be at greater risk of abusing pain pills and ending up with an opioid addiction. Even if that doesn’t apply to you, you could be at higher risk of abusing your medication if other people in your family have misused drugs or alcohol.

Alternatives to Pain Medication

There are ways to treat painful conditions without the pain pills that can lead to opioid addiction. If your doctor talks about writing a prescription for you, ask ahead of time what it will be, and tell the doctor that you don’t want narcotic pain pills.

  • Most people are unaware that they can take both ibuprofen and acetaminophen. They are two different categories of medication, and if your pain level seems high up on the pain scale of 1 to 10 then you can alternate them. You can take aspirin and acetaminophen together, but you cannot combine aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen with one another. They are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and you can only take one of them at a time.


  • If you’ve had surgery or if you’ve broken a limb, ask for a medication like Toradol (generic, ketorolac). It is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent that is generally prescribed for short-term use. Through its control of hormones in the body there is a decreased experience of pain and it successfully reduces inflammation.


  • If you have problems with headaches, you should avoid the use of narcotic pain pills, because they can have a rebound effect and actually increase the incidence of your headaches.


  • Never take opioid medications of any kind if you are already taking a benzodiazepine medication such as Xanax. Pain pills and benzodiazepines make a deadly combination. The same goes for alcohol: If you are on pain pills, you cannot wash them down with your dinnertime cocktail.


  • Be willing to go to physical therapy in order to treat your back pain or other muscle pain. You can also consider movement classes such as yoga or even Zumba. Studies show that physical activity releases endorphins throughout the body, which are the body’s own natural pain relievers.


  • Consider a hypnosis session with a certified, licensed hypnotist. It should cost you around $150 to $300 depending upon where you live, and you will learn self-relaxation techniques that help you deal with pain.


  • Ask for a referral to an acupuncturist in your community. The needles are tiny and most people report that they do not even feel them as the acupuncturist maneuvers them. Many of them swear that they obtain long-term relief through acupuncture therapy.


Ultimately, it is your responsibility to take note of what your doctor is prescribing and ask for medications that will not lead to opioid addiction. If you believe that you may already be experiencing an opioid addiction problem, however, it’s important to get help right away. We are a substance abuse treatment center and can provide you with the therapy you need to eliminate opioids from your life. All you need to do is make an initial phone call, and the help you need will be available.