How will my doctor ensure I don’t become addicted to opioid medication?

There is no clear way to ensure that you won’t become addicted to opioids if you are taking them for pain, aside from simply not taking them in the first place. If you do take these medications for a long period of time, the risk of addiction is very high. The doctor who is dispensing this medication to you should be vigilant, performing drug testing to make sure you aren’t abusing other drugs (an indicator that you might abuse this one). They could make rules and hold to them, such as not refilling your medication earlier for you. Things like that will help, but the best thing is to wean yourself off opioids with the help of your doctor.
Travis M. Hendry, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
To help keep you safe, your doctor will help you manage the addiction risks of long-term opioid medication (strong medications that affect the way your brain handles pain signals). Your doctor may do this in various ways:
  • Identifying factors that may increase your risk. Research shows certain factors increase your risk of opioid misuse or addiction. Examples include a history of drug or alcohol abuse and certain mental health conditions. Your doctor may talk with you about these factors, ask you to fill out a form about them, or both. It's important to be honest with your doctor about this information. If you have a higher risk, your doctor can take steps to help prevent problems.
  • Creating a plan. Your doctor may ask you to sign an agreement that spells out a plan for managing risk and keeping you safe while getting the most benefit from the medication.
  • Scheduling follow-up visits. Your doctor will set up regular visits to check how you're doing. Your doctor may sometimes ask you to bring your medication to check the amount you still have left.
  • Having urine tests. Your doctor may check the medication levels in your system from time to time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.