Opioid medications help relieve pain by reducing the intensity of pain signals in the brain and affect the areas of the brain that control emotion. Opioids may help with pain, but they can also provide a feeling of euphoria which leads to addiction. A new study by the University of Arkansas shows that increasing your dose of opioid medication may not necessarily make the pain go away.

University of Arkansas Study

This study helps give researchers a better idea if increasing pain medications could lead to better pain management. Researchers looked at the medical records of patients who were prescribed opioids from 2008-2015. They were treated for arthritis, neck pain, back pain, neuropathic pain, or headaches. Nearly 21,000 patients increased their dose. These patients were compared with more than 32,000 patients using the same dose. Patients rated their pain from 0-10 with 10 being the worst pain imaginable.

The Results of the Study

Patients who had their doses escalated had higher pain scores than those who maintained their regular dose. The results show that the pain scores did not go down a significant degree after their medication doses increased. After 180 days after their doses increased, their average pain only decreased by 0.1 on the pain scale. In order for it to be meaningful, changes in pain need to be at least 0.5-1.0. In fact, patients who kept their same dose had a decrease in pain by 0.3 which is greater than the escalation group. This shows that increasing your opioid dose does not offer you better pain management. 

What Needs to Be Done

This study shows us that we do not need to have our opioid prescriptions increased in order to better manage our pain. Doing this can increase your risk of developing an opioid addiction which is a chronic problem. You need to know about the serious side effects of higher opioid doses like dizziness, increased sensitivity to pain, constipation, and increased risk of addiction. It used to be that opioids were to be used solely for end-stage cancer or acute pain after a serious injury just for a short time. Now, opioids are used for everything which leads patients to more exposure to them. It is important to speak to your doctor about what you have learned about opioid use and to give you a healthy dose of painkillers that prevent the development of drug addiction.

At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.