ZocdocAnswers"If I take pain killers after surgery, will I get addicted?"

Question

"If I take pain killers after surgery, will I get addicted?"

I?m getting several teeth pulled and my dentist said I will be prescribed pain medication. I?m afraid because my friend was addicted to pain killers. Will I get addicted if I take them? Are there kinds I can take that I can?t get addicted to?

Answer

This is a very commonly asked question and one that I can with clear conscience reassure you of. While there are people who become addicted to pain medications, this is generally because they have a chronic disease which requires that they take pain medications for a prolonged period of time. When we prescribe pain medication after surgeries they are usually only a small supply which will last one week or two at the most. This is a short time for someone to become addicted to them. In addition, when an individual is in pain and achieves relief from narcotic pain medications, the learned response is to take the medications in order to remove the noxious stimulus (pain). This removal of a negative far outweighs the addition of a positive (euphoria caused by narcotics) which can become addictive. In other words, when you take narcotic pain medications to relieve pain, you are far less likely to become addicted to them than if you took them when not in pain. In addition, the pain that occurs after having your teeth pulled is fairly short-lived, typically only a couple of days. This is far too short for an addiction to occur. Nonetheless, please discuss the issue with your dentist or surgeon. They may recommend alternative non-narcotic pain medications which do not relieve pain quite as well but may provide you with more peace of mind.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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