Patient Information Resources

Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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My next door neighbor seems to have a problem with alcohol and now she's been given narcotics for her back pain. This doesn't seem like a good idea to us. Whatever could her doctor be thinking?

Prescription opiates (narcotic drugs) have been dispensed much more freely in the last few years. Part of this is because research has shown that not everyone automatically becomes a drug addict taking these medications. Many people with chronic pain are helped. And so far, there's no way to know who will do well taking these medications and who will have problems with drug abuse, overdose, and even unintentional death. A history of alcohol or other drug abuse is certainly a red flag. Physicians are advised to conduct a drug history before prescribing these powerful medications. Many patients are given opioids but not in a way that will control their pain. The fear of addiction results in inadequate dosing and drug searching on the part of the patient. They may turn to other pain relievers such as alcohol or ask friends and family to share their medications with them. This type of behavior can be limited or avoided altogether with proper medical treatment. Pain relievers should be combined with behavioral counseling, exercise, and other pain management tools. Physicians try to select patients who seem best suited for opioid therapy. But research hasn't shown us yet just what kind of personal characteristics might point to or predict opioid abuse and misuse.


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