Why Opioids Don’t Always Work

Opiates or Opioids do not always work. Certain types of pain are a challenge for these drugs, due to the way they work. Opioids work very well when used correctly for specific types of pain. You are probably thinking; why on Earth would I take prescription opioids for pain if they don’t work, and why in the World would any doctor prescribe me something that is potentially addictive if it isn’t even going to work? Yes, good questions, and we will address these questions, and give you a little more insight.

First, prescribed opiates and opioids absolutely do work for intense pain. For instance, immediately after surgery or after a broken bone and reset. These drugs alleviate the pain, allow the patient to sleep, and heal for the first few days. It’s best to stop taking them before a week has gone by. It’s also wise to only use the dosages recommended in the prescription, doubling or tripling up can lead to problems. These drugs should not be used with the intent of preventing all the pain. Rather, the goal should be to make the pain semi-bearable in the interim.

Although “PAIN” is a four-letter word, pain is actually a good thing. It sends a message to your body to bring in nutrients and reinforcements to the areas which have been damaged. Pain is a natural occurrence and it is part of the healing process.

Be leery of any doctor nonchalantly prescribing opioid pain medication, ask questions. Make sure that the answers you get make sense. You should inquire about the potential risks and side effects. You should be concerned about getting addicted or becoming dependent. If you start to feel moody, suddenly angry for no reason, have intense cravings, or desire to take unnecessary risks, these could be signs that you are headed down the wrong path.

How Opiates are Ineffective for Some Pain

Just because you have pain, doesn’t mean you need such a powerful painkiller. Medical professionals have in the past prescribed opioids too often without realizing the serious problems. Now everyone knows risks, and now patients are starting to ask more questions. Doctors no longer prescribe opiates for ‘chronic’ or long-term pain. There are good reasons for this. Let’s discuss the classifications of pain for a moment.

First, you need to know what type of pain you have. Pain is usually classified as either Nociceptive or Neuropathic.  

Nociceptive pain is caused by inflammation, physical injury, or chemical compounds. Your nerves send pain signals to your brain – telling your brain it hurts. Neuropathic pain is when your nerves themselves are injured or pinched and they scream ‘help’ to the brain. Opioids don’t work for neuropathic pain, and this makes sense because of how they bind with proteins on nerve cells.

If you have nerve damage and the opioids aren’t working, you might think; well, I just need to take more. NO, that won’t work and will only lead to severe problems down a dark road towards dependency or addiction. 

If you have chronic pain opiates or opioids are a bad choice, as you’d have to keep taking them for a long time. Your body over time will become tolerant of them, thus, you need to take more which can lead to dependency and addiction. It can also lead to organ failures and nerve damage. Remember what we said about opioids and nerve damage above. Opioids can ruin your life, and they’ve ended a lot of lives in the U.S. This is serious stuff.

If you have chronic pain you should ask your doctor about non-opiates and non-drug alternatives. They are numerous, but just as opioids don’t work for some things, most pain-killer drugs are specifically designed to work for certain types of pain. It’s important you get the right pain-killer drugs if you are going to take anti-pain medication.

How Opiates Sometimes Make the Pain Worse

As we discussed in a previous blog article; the pain relief from opiates is transient and the pain can worsen with long-term prescription opioid use. Those who have a history of being prescribed opioids, will over time become more sensitized to pain. This is called “allodynia” where the stimuli that aren’t normally affected are now causing pain. Yes, that is a scary thought, isn’t it? 

The goal should be to manage the pain without allowing the patient to become addicted or dependent on the opiates or opioids. This is why it is now considered wise medical advice to use alternative painkillers and techniques. 

Many of us believe that ‘pain’ is bad because it hurts, however, if we alleviate all of our pain, then we get used to having no pain, thus, when we have a new pain, we are less tolerant of the pain stimuli. See that problem? This can become a vicious circle as we take more painkillers to stop any and all pain.

Since opiates and opioids block pain by filling up the protein receptors, the body will then increase its arsenal of receptors to get the pain signals to the brain. This means each time the drug starts to wear off, or the patient is weaning off the opioid painkillers there are more receptors to deliver more signals – ouch. 

Of course, the patient wants more opioids as the pain has come back. Giving the body more at that point is a trap towards addiction. Even when the injury is somewhat healed the patient is still getting pain signals. “That’s not fair,” you say. No, it’s not, but that is indeed what happens.

You’ve probably heard of endorphins and the endorphin high that runners get. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller. If you keep feeding your body opiates or opioids, it figures that it doesn’t need to make endorphins anymore, which means eventually your body loses its natural ability to reduce pain on its own. This causes chronic pain, and if you remember opioids do not work well for chronic pain. 

We Can Help with Opioid Addiction or Opiate Dependency

Are you beginning to see why people need help with their opioid addictions, why it’s so hard to deal with on their own? This is why so many people have tried and failed to quit their opioid addiction. The deck is severely stacked against them. This is one of those things that is almost impossible to do on your own, and the longer it goes on, the worse it gets, and the more likelihood of long-term health and brain damage. Call us today, let’s talk, set up a plan, and get this taken care of as soon as possible. You have your whole life ahead of you, don’t let an opiate addiction ruin your life and then cut it short.

Read our previous post on the effects of Opiates over a short and long period of time.

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