Avoiding Pain Pill Use

Health Professional

No matter how bad the pain may be, some people really do need to avoid using opioid pain pills. Avoiding the use of pain-relieving pills is not easy when the throbbing, burning and/or stabbing are intensifying. If the risks outweigh the benefits, then it really is best to steer clear of opioid medications.(1)

When are the risks of opioid use likely to outweigh the benefits?

Several risky circumstances come to mind if opioid use is being considered.

First of all, anyone with a history of substance abuse really should avoid opioid use. Because of a concept called cross-addiction, pills could potentially trigger a relapse even if pills were not the primary drug of choice. For example, an alcoholic might be triggered to return to alcohol use while using opioid pills. Even if someone does not have a personal history of drug abuse, but has close relatives that do, he/she might want to consider avoiding pain pill use as well.

Other examples of people who need to avoid using pain pills include anyone that drives for a living, anyone operating heavy machinery or equipment, or anyone with sleep apnea.

Additionally, others might also want to avoid the opioid-related side effects like: drowsiness, fractures, cardiac problems, sexual dysfunction and other hormonal imbalances. The risks of long-term opioid pain pill use are just not worth it for some.(2)

Once the need to avoid pain pills is identified, then certain strategies can help.

One important fact to remember is that not all pain responds well to opioids. Nerve pain is a specific type of pain that is sometimes best treated with non-opioid medications. A full exploration of non-opioid pain relievers can really help one avoid using the opioid pain pills. Examples of medications worth trying for nerve pain include: Cymbalta, Lyrica, gabapentin, zonisamide, and Celebrex.

In addition to exploring non-opioid medications, complementary treatments should be explored too. Everything from food to furniture can offer pain control without medications. Trying medical devices or assistive devices may relieve pain too. By talking with different professionals, other solutions may found that will prevent the use of pain pills.

If pain pills cannot be completely avoided and the risks are high, then one might want to identify an accountability partner to help keep the pain pill use in check and monitored. Opioid pain pill use is a very slippery slope for some. An accountability partner can help keep someone from using too much or help to avoid the use altogether.

Pain pill use is difficult to avoid over the course of a lifetime.

However, certain circumstances require complete avoidance or else risk complete catastrophe. Long-term opioid use comes with many potential consequences; thus, many should try to avoid pain pill use as much as possible utilizing as many alternatives as possible.


  1. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jan 13. doi: 10.7326/M14-2559
  2. Endocr Pract. 2014 Dec 22:1-26.