Recovering With Limited Opioids
Myths/Facts About Opioids
Opioids aren’t for everyone. While opioids have been commonly used to manage pain after surgery, they can also contribute to an extended recovery period.
Consider these myths/facts about opioids.
Patients who receive opioids to manage pain after surgery often spend more time in the hospital compared to patients who received non-opioid options.1-4
Surgery can lead to long-term use of opioids, putting patients at risk of addiction or dependence. About 6% of people who hadn’t been taking opioids before an operation but were prescribed the drugs to ease pain after surgery were still taking the drugs three to six months later.5
If you’ve been prescribed opioids, you may not be able to accomplish regular everyday tasks due to the side effects from opioids.6
Nearly 1 in 5 women believe this myth—when in fact it’s the opposite!7 While opioids often play a major role in postsurgical pain management, their usage can actually delay discharge.1-4
Long-term use of opioids can lead to decreased pain tolerance and increased sensitivity to pain.8
There are a range of safe and effective non-opioid options available to manage pain before, during, and after surgery. Talk to your doctor to create the most appropriate surgical pain management plan for you.
Understanding the Difference Between Opioid Dependency, Persistent Use, and Addiction
Occurs when the body adapts to the drug and requires more of it to achieve a certain effect (also known as tolerance). Becoming dependent on a prescription medication may cause drug-related physical or mental symptoms if drug use is stopped quickly (also known as withdrawal). Physical dependence can happen with the chronic use of many drugs—including opioids, even if taken as instructed
- Persistent Use
It’s estimated that 3 million Americans will become persistent users of opioids each year following initial exposure after surgery. This means they continue to use opioids 3 to 6 months after their procedure, often requiring prescription refills5
Addiction is a chronic brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.10 In many cases, drug use becomes the main priority, regardless of the harm they may cause to themselves or others. An addiction causes people to act irrationally when they don’t have the substance they are addicted to in their system
The Side Effects From Opioids May Hold Back Your Recovery
Despite the desire to get back to daily life, 67% of women surveyed took an opioid to manage pain after surgery, which can negatively impact recovery.7 For example,
- Opioids can cause nausea, vomiting, and constipation9
- Opioids can delay how quickly you return to day-to-day activities1
- Opioids can lead to dependency or, if left around the house, can pose a potential risk of misuse/abuse by others2
*Asked among 377 US women ages 30-50 who have had orthopedic or soft tissue surgery who have taken or were prescribed opioids following their surgical procedure
Pacira BioSciences, Inc. On the Rebound: What to Expect after Surgery. July 2020. [Analysis in the report was based on a survey conducted by Wakefield Research.]