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The best way to prevent misuse of opioid drugs is to avoid taking them in the first place.

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Opioids are a class of drugs that include commonly prescribed pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and codeine. More than 30% of Americans experience some type of acute or chronic pain and these prescription drugs help alleviate the pain.

Unfortunately, opioids can be highly addictive and are commonly misused. The U.S. is currently experiencing an opioid crisis due to the abuse of prescription pain relievers, as well as heroin and synthetic opioids, drugs people turn to when they can’t easily get prescription pain meds.

“I find patients are pleasantly surprised to see how much their pain is improved with a period of physical therapy.  This oftentimes is the “jumpstart” patients need to start a home exercise program which promotes more prolonged pain-free or pain-managed periods of time without prescription medication.”

Rachel M. Gruner, MD, Internal Medicine 

Opioid abuse often begins with a single prescription following an injury, illness or flare-up of chronic pain. That’s why one of the best ways to prevent addiction is to avoid taking pain medication whenever possible. It’s not always possible to do so, but here are 4 ways you may be able to manage chronic pain without drugs:

    1. Be more active. Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, increasing the amount of physical activity you do may help ease your pain. Exercise helps reduce stiffness and inflammation and can give your mood a boost. Tai Chi and yoga have been shown to reduce back pain and may improve other types of pain as well.
    2. Reduce stress. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing to help ease tension and relieve tightness. When you’re less stressed, you may find your pain subsides.
    3. Find distractions. Focusing on your pain can make you feel worse. Instead, find things you enjoy doing that can take your mind off your pain.
    4. Join a support group. Finding others who understand what you’re going through can help you better cope with chronic pain. You may also benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can change the way you react to your pain.

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Date Last Reviewed: February 17, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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