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What are some of the risks and benefits of using narcotics for pain management?

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Quick Answer

Prescription opioids, narcotic pain management medications, have serious side effects when used incorrectly or mixed with alcohol or other medications. Narcotic pain medications cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, irritability, muscle pain and anxiety. Other less-serious side effects include constipation and drowsiness, states WebMD.

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Full Answer

Prescription opioids are the next level in pain management when over-the-counter medications are ineffective. Opioids bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and limit the pain messages sent to the brain, thereby controlling pain, according to WebMD. These drugs are taken orally or through a skin patch that allows absorption through the skin.

Starting opioid pain management requires a prescription from a physician. Doses may be prescribed for continuous pain management or as needed for breakthrough pain that flairs up while under continuous medication. Remain under the care of the physician to ensure positive progress in pain management, reporting of medication interactions, documentation of medical conditions, and that the medication is taken and working correctly, states WebMD.

Medicine should not be discontinued without doctor knowledge and direction. If the medication is ineffective, ask the physician for other options. When it is time to stop taking the medication, the physician orders a slow reduction to avoid having withdrawal symptoms, says WebMD.

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