Opioids—including morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl—are extremely effective for treating acute pain following surgery or a serious injury.
However, it’s also true that they can be problematic when taken for long periods, because many patients develop tolerance to opioids. That means they need higher and higher doses to get pain relief and the higher doses increase the risk of side effects and harm. This can also result in hyperalgesia.
To make things worse, it’s very common for patients to become physically dependent on opioids - regardless if they have had substance abuse problems suffered from addiction in the past. Anyone can become physically dependent in as few as 5 days when taking opioids. When you become physically dependent, if the drug is stopped abruptly or the dose is reduced by even a little bit, patients can suffer extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms—including increased pain.
After the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain was released in response to the the unanticipated consequences of years of doctors overprescribing addictive pain medications, many doctors have begun cutting off their patients prescriptions cold turkey.
Many patients experience persistent pain or important functional reductions for longer than a month after a small reduction in their dose and even worse symptoms when cut off completely. To cope with withdrawal symptoms, some are turning to the underground market—which puts patients at risk of using potentially lethal counterfeit medications and other highly addictive drugs.
SO... WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR DOCTOR SUDDENLY STOPS YOUR PAIN MED PRESCRIPTION?
There is a difference between people who are misusing opioids because they are physically and mentally addicted and patients who take the drugs to control pain so they can function day-to-day and have become physically dependent.
If you are simply trying to manage your pain and don't want to go through the additional pain of dealing with opioid withdrawals (when being cut off or deciding to stop on your own), we are here to help you through a simple, outpatient medical detox. Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping the use of opioids/opiates.