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Why Chronic Pain Patients Are at Risk For Drug Dependence

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For those saddled with chronic pain, a reliance on medication can be part of life. However, experts in our pain clinic in Minneapolis warn that this reliance comes with a risk of drug dependence. 

Suffering from pain that won't go away might not seem like a life-threatening medical issue, but chronic pain is a growing public health problem since it is often associated with addiction to pain medication. According to the JAMA Network, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. suffer from some kind of chronic pain. 

Chronic Pain and Addiction to Painkillers

Painkillers like opioids are commonly used to treat chronic pain. Opioids, such as Vicodin, are actually classified in the same category as heroin or morphine. These types of drugs often deliver high amounts of dopamine that alter brain function. These also bring a type of sensation or euphoric feeling that can be addicting for some patients, especially those who do not follow the correct prescription.

Over time, the body's tolerance for these painkillers takes effect and when that happens, some chronic pain patients demand a dosage increase or go against their doctor's orders and self administer a higher dose. Unfortunately, there is no easy way for doctors or even family members to predict if a chronic pain patient can become addicted to drugs unless there is a history of substance abuse.

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Recognizing the Signs of Addictions

Our doctors in addiction medicine, Minneapolis ask patients and their relatives to watch out for the following signs that could mean drug dependence on pain relief drugs:

  • Taking more than the prescribed medication
  • Doctor shopping or seeing multiple physicians to get more prescriptions
  • Changes in personality, mood, and energy level, which includes withdrawing from family or friends
  • Neglecting responsibilities both at work and in the family
  • Neglecting appearances and physical hygiene
  • Defensive behavior, especially when asked about prescription intake

Chronic Pain and Substance Abuse Factors

Not everyone with chronic pain will end up being drug-dependent. Yet some patients could be vulnerable to substance abuse due to many factors:

  • They could have a history of dependence or addiction in the family
  • They might be suffering from a mental health disorder -- such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress (PTSD) -- long before the chronic pain developed
  • The chronic pain itself might be taking such a serious toll on their mental, emotional, and physical health that the medication is the only thing that provides relief.

Learn more about Valley Medical Pain Clinic in Minneapolis

If you are suffering from chronic pain and are concerned about the risk of developing drug dependence, don’t hesitate to contact our experts in pain and addiction medicine in Minneapolis.


Our friendly and experienced addiction treatment experts take a multi-disciplinary approach that will guide you on your road to recovery. We have clinics in 3 accessible locations to serve you better: Burnsville, Minneapolis, and Woodbury. For inquiries, call us at (612) 444-3000.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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4350 Sheridan St
Suite 102
Hollywood, FL 33021
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