It looks as if the medical technology will soon exist that can accurately predict a person's tendency to develop opiate addiction at some point in the future. Yahoo Finance reports that a research team showed Proove Opioid Risk identifies patients at risk for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) with nearly 97% accuracy.
Apparently this study takes both genetic factors as well as environmental factors into account somehow. PR Newswire says that Based on ASAM's definition of addiction, about half of substance abuse is due to genetic factors.
Imagine a world in which young people, perhaps young teens, are given a screening for opiate addiction risk, after which they are advised of their propensity towards addiction. The medical community might even advise or instruct future doctors not to dispense addictive pain medication, and instead insist on alternatives such as NSAIDS.
But is this right? Is it right to say to someone who is in extreme pain Look, we are sorry about your extreme level of pain right now, and we would love to give you something more powerful to help with your discomfort, but unfortunately your risk for opiate addiction is just too high, and therefore we are not allowed to expose you to addictive substances. You will have to suffer through with a less powerful pain medication like Ibuprofen. Sorry about that.
That is the debate that is arising based on the new technology that is being developed.
Hopefully we can avoid having to answer this question at all, however, which could be made possible by research and advancements in other areas of medical technology. For example, they are currently working on a creating opiate-like pain medications that do not produce any euphoria, but are still able to remove pain from the body. Such developing medications are currently in clinical trials, and could be out within the next few years. If we can successfully create a non-addictive opiate medication, then we can sidestep the ethical question of whether or not we should be giving addictive medicine to people who are at-risk for addiction.
That said, every individual has to find their own path in life, and the current state of the world is such that you are bound to run into an addictive substance at some point. In other words, even if we take extra measures to avoid exposing certain patients to addictive substances, they are bound to run into alcohol, or medical marijuana, or opiate painkillers, or some other addictive substance at some point in their life journey. Which is another way of saying, maybe it doesn't really matter what precautions we take in early development, because our society is going to expose everyone, at some point, to an addictive substance of some kind or another.
If you do find yourself getting addicted to opiate based painkillers, what can you do? First of all I would recommend that you talk to the doctor who is prescribing your opiate medications to you and talk about alternatives. You may have to investigate some other techniques as far as pain management goes. For one thing, you may have to attend a pain clinic of some sort that can use specialized medicines to target the source of your pain more accurately. There may also be types of physical therapy that could be beneficial. You may also get a lot of relief from massage or hot and cold treatments.
In other words, if you remove the addictive pain medication and then explore all of your options very thoroughly, you may find that you can manage your pain without the opiates involved at all. There are many recovering addicts who have serious pain issues who do exactly thatthey explore lots of alternatives in terms of pain management and they find what works best for their situation. Note that you have to have the right attitude in order to do this, you cannot be close minded about it and demand that 100 percent of your pain be completely eliminated at all times. If you are stubborn and demand to be completely pain free then you are just setting yourself up for failure.
If you look at the pain scale that is traditionally used in medicine, a 1 or a 2 is very little pain that doesn't even annoy you, up to a 10 which is the worst pain you have ever felt in your life. You have to gauge what a realistic amount of pain is to be dealing with on a regular basis. The opiate addict is often taking the stance that they want to live their entire life at a pain level of 1 or even zero, and anything else is unacceptable.
This is not realistic. Most people can function very comfortably with a pain level of 3 or 4. So not only does the opiate addict have to be honest with themselves, they must also be honest with their doctor, and they also need to be realistic. It is not fair to expect that you can live your life at a pain level of zero while having certain medical conditions.
Note that this does not mean that you have to suffer endlessly. It does mean, however, that you are entirely responsible to explore all of the alternatives when it comes to your own pain management. There is a saying: You are your own doctor, meaning that you have a huge responsibility and play a key role in how you are going to be medically treated.
In other words, do not just suffer in pain and then keep complaining that the doctor's are not giving me enough pain medication when you happen to also be addicted to opiates. Once you are addicted to opiates they are never going to truly be effective for you anyway, at least not in the long run. Your tolerance will increase far too quickly and then you have to keep increasing the dose until it become dangerous or unsustainable.
The solution is to be realistic, explore your alternatives, and find ways to deal with your pain that do not involve addictive substances. Such an approach is possible but you have to be open minded about it . If you are insisting that you have zero pain then you are going to stay stuck in a place where you are either addicted or miserable all the time (or both). Avoid that problem and start seeking real ways to treat your pain that do not compromise your addiction.
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