Cancer is a devastating disease and severe pain is one of its debilitating symptoms. This symptom is treated with powerfully addictive opioid painkillers. Depending on the severity of pain the patient is going through, different prescription patterns are used for pain management. As the potential of developing addiction is high, cancer patients are more vulnerable to opioid misuse as compared to the general population. Increasing tolerance further multiplies this vulnerability and this can have detrimental effects on the body of the patient.
How Prevalent Is Opioid Addiction In Cancer Patients?
According to a study by the University of Michigan, cancer patients are likely to take pain medications longer than prescribed by the doctor. Even a year after surgery, many cancer patients continue to take opioids daily. An appropriate dosage of opioids is expected to treat acute postoperative pain. However, the dosage should not be continued for months.
Factors In Opioid Addiction Among Cancer Patients
What are the factors making this group of people more vulnerable to this addiction? Following three factors can play a significant role:
Cancer is a life-threatening disease. And this is a fact that it causes extreme pain. Taking opioids is one of the most effective ways to alleviate this pain. The risk of developing addiction increases when the patient starts taking a higher dosage to get relief from pain
Getting diagnosed with cancer can cause traumatic stress symptoms. Therefore, addiction in cancer patients often has an emotional component. The patient has a tendency to use opioids to self-medicate psychological symptoms.
Lack Of Coordination
When there is a large team taking care of a cancer patient, things become a little difficult to manage due to lack of coordination. The patient might be seeing multiple specialists. He might be getting multiple prescriptions. Sometimes, the dosage is poorly-adjusted. This creates room for addiction.
Addiction Vs. Dependence
It is important to learn the difference between addiction and dependence when it comes to opioid use among cancer patients. When a patient is taking medication over time, he is likely to become dependent on it. When he stops taking medication, this often leads to withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is the compulsive use of the drug. However, many patients continuing to use opioids are unable to figure out whether it is dependence or addiction. To understand it better, they should see experts at a Malibu rehab center.
Drug Rehab For Cancer Patients
Patients struggling with a substance abuse disorder and cancer at the same time need a unique drug treatment program. It is important to consider their pain management needs while offering a drug rehab program. Pain management should not include the use of opioid painkillers. The patient should be given a comprehensive, individualized care plan also including cancer into account. It takes a dedicated care team that can help people with cancer in getting relief from substance abuse disorder. Therapists at a Malibu drug rehab center should offer the best drug treatment program to overcome addiction and effective alternatives to opioid painkillers.