For those who take them, managing pain medications is rarely an easy task. After all, many of the most effective products cause drowsiness, forgetfulness, and decreased overall cognition. Working with your loved one to establish a solid plan for medication management is essential. With the right strategies, you can prevent dangerous overdose events and ensure that the right benefits are being received.
1. Have Solid, Secondary Pain Management Strategies
Many pain management drugs are highly addictive. During the formative stages of prescription drug use, most people with severe injuries have limited, natural ways to alleviate their discomfort. However, as healing progresses, other methods should be gradually introduced to supplement pain pills and limit reliance on these products. Early on, encourage your loved one to practice:
- Deep, diaphragmatic breathing
When patients have multiple ways to relieve their pain, they’re far less likely to take more medication than they should, and far less likely to misuse these products in other ways. As inflammation and swelling decrease and mobility improves, work with a pain management specialist, chiropractor, or general physician to determine the best:
- Stretching techniques
- Nutritional support
- Strength-building exercises
and other natural therapies for expediting healing.
2. Create a Comprehensive List of the Medications Being Used
Before starting any pain management program that includes prescription or over-the-counter drugs, take the time to draft a comprehensive list of all the products that have been prescribed. Write out the dosing schedules and dosing amounts for each. Although some pain medication users are wont to manage dosing on their own, it’s important to have a second party assist with the tracking and administration of any medications that cause impairment. Having a written schedule and regularly updating it when pills are taken will prevent missed doses and accidental overdoses. This list can also be shared with any practitioner in the patient’s treatment plan when medication needs to be discontinued, increased, or otherwise revised.
If there are specific instructions or contraindications for any medications, these should be bolded or highlighted. For instance, if patients should avoid taking specific drugs with milk, alcohol, or certain over-the-counter products, be sure to list these details clearly.
3. Stick With a Single Pharmacy
The more professionals and service providers involved in a patient’s pain management plan, the more likely problems become. Working with a single pharmacy is a great way to eliminate potential confusion. It will additionally prevent the loss or delay of information and make it easier for professionals to identify red flags such as medications that are contraindicated.
4. Take Advantages of Pill Boxes and Modern Medication Management Technologies
One of the best ways to keep medications organized for proper dosing is by investing in a pill box. These simple, low-cost storage solutions can be invaluable when multiple medications are used, particularly when patients don’t have caregivers constantly at hand. Pillboxes can also make the need for refills apparent so that patients are never in danger of completely running out of essential medications.
These tools can be supplemented with the use of smartphone reminders. There are also automated pill dispensers, talking pill bottles, and medication bracelets with alarms. Given the additional costs of these innovative technologies, they’re generally best-suited for people taking pain medications over the long-term. When spending is a concern, smartphone apps are an inexpensive and often free option in technical medication management.
5. Don’t Overlook Good General Self-Care
Relying on pain medications can take a toll on a person’s overall health. Good nutrition and proper hydration are key for minimizing potential side effects. Patients should also make sure to get plenty of sleep, and to avoid foods, beverages, and activities that cause unnecessary physical stress. Whether pain pills cause dry mouth, excessive sweating, or nausea, it’s important to have strategies for naturally mitigating these things. These can include drinking more water, taking natural supplements, or limiting non-essential doses.
Helping a loved one manage pain medications greatly minimizes the risks associated with using drugs that cause impairment or that may be habit-forming. With the tips above, people can reduce the risk of accidental overdose and drug addiction. They can also explore natural pain therapies that make gradually weaning off of pain meds infinitely easier.
At Southeast Pain & Spine Care, we offer multiple strategies for natural pain relief. Our services can seamlessly support your loved one’s existing pain management plan, and provide healthful alternatives when pain medications stop working or begin causing unpleasant side effects. Fill out our form below to get more information or give us a call.