Myths & Facts of Narcotics Use

| By Meredith Ford

Narcotics are often the drug of choice in controlling moderate to severe pain. These medicines are easy to use or adjust, and provide fast, effective pain control. If you are prescribed narcotics, it is important that you take them regularly, as instructed, to stay ahead of the pain. It is a miracle of nature and a scientific achievement that narcotics are available to us. It is unfortunate that their misuse leads to misunderstanding. If you are prescribed narcotics for pain, you and your loved ones may benefit from reading the following myths and facts about them.

Myth: I may become addicted to narcotics.

Fact: People in pain seldom become addicted to narcotics. Rather, they develop tolerance to their effects and may or may not require slightly higher doses as their body adjusts to the drug. Should you be able to change to a lesser dose, you will not experience withdrawal symptoms.

Myth: If I use narcotics now, they won’t help me when I really need them.

Fact: Narcotics have no “ceiling,” or maximum dose. Many people require only a low dose over the entire course of their illness. Those with more severe pain may easily tolerate very high doses. There is no limit, however. If necessary, and in consultation with your physician, the dose can always be increased. 

Myth: Narcotics are a “last resort,” to be used at the very end of life.

Fact: People may benefit from narcotics from months to years.

Myth: The only way to take narcotics is by injection.

Fact: Narcotics can be taken orally, by patch, and rectally, with excellent results.

Myth: Narcotics can stop a person’s breathing.

Fact: Narcotics are often prescribed to help relieve shortness of breath. These drugs will not impair breathing when used correctly.


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