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Should patients who take pain killers regularly worry about dependency?

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4 March, 2013

Research carried out by Nuffield Health found a third of people using pain medication on a long-term basis were concerned they needed the pills to function normally. And the study discovered 37% felt they would not be able to carry on working without taking painkillers.

The study involved a poll of 3,100 people and found that 1,659 - more than 53% - had been taking painkillers to manage pain or injury over the previous 12 months. Of these people, 14% said they had taken more than the recommended safe dose.

What information should patients taking long-term painkillers receive from health professionals?

Is it safe for patients to take long term pain killers?

Are patients missing out on more effective interventions to treat their pain?

Painkiller dependency worries one in three patients, survey suggests

Readers' comments (5)

  • I used to take paracetamols every day when I suffered from headaches. It reached the point when I would take one just when I thought I was getting a headache.

    Was I taking them properly?

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  • PDave Angel
    No, you weren't. Also, paracetamol is not addictive.

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  • Living with chronic pain conditions is not easy. One has to balance the risks and benefits. All medications have side effects. I have taken tramadol for 18 years, and am dependent on it to control severe neuropathic leg pain, after alternative management options did not work. It makes the pain bearable, so that I can carry out normal activities. It does have a down side due to the opiate type action, but until a wonder drug comes along it is the only way I can have a life, so the risks are worth it. It is vital that nurses are aware of the increased analgesic requirements of those of us with chronic pain when undergoing acute surgery or suffering trauma. My chronic medication will have little effect on acute pain. I need high doses of morphine on top of my usual tramadol. However I can always stop the morphine when the acute episode is over. Taking medication is better than relentless pain.

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  • Having read the author's contribution on March 9th I have to say that the description almost matches my friend's experience who is not allowed to have more than one Tramol per day. I believe that Tramol is the same as Tramadol and she uses this for severe arthritic pain of her hip as she awaits surgery. One Doctor has proposed taking her off the tramol and leaving her without any pain management as she believes that this will enhance the medication when she begins to reuse the Tramol. I have never known of any evidence that suggests that allowing a patient to suffer chronic pain for 3 days will help the treatment to work better when recommenced. please can I have some tried and tested suggestions to help with her pain. She will only be able to take tramol one each day and she needs 2 per day otherwise she is unable to walk or function as a normal human being. Her pain is from her arthritic joint and is severe pain.

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  • no pain killer should be a substitute for treatment whilst patients are forced onto waiting lists!

    timely treatment for the symptoms should help to alleviate far more suffering than is actually the current case. with effective and appropriate therapies perhaps the amount of pain killers can be reduced or eliminated thus also reducing a number of unwanted and harmful side effects.

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