Worried About Dependence?
British Columbia Specific Information
All opiates, including prescribed medications such as morphine and oxycodone, can be addictive. If you are concerned about your use of opiates, speak with your health care provider. For more information visit HeretoHelp.
Individual, family, and small group counselling is available to people of all ages who are directly or indirectly affected by alcohol and other drug use. For more information call the 24-hour BC Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service in the Lower Mainland at 604-660-9382 or toll-free anywhere in B.C. at 1-800-663-1441.
To find mental health and substance use support services in your area, you can search HealthLinkBC's FIND Services and Resources Directory or contact your local health authority.
If you follow your doctor's directions about taking narcotic medicines—and you don't have a history of drug use problems—your risk of becoming dependent is small. In the past, narcotics were used only for short periods for short-term pain or for cancer pain. Many experts now also use them for longer periods to treat chronic pain. You can take these drugs, which are sometimes called opioids, to reduce pain and increase your functioning without becoming dependent.
If you stop taking narcotics suddenly, you may get nausea, sweating, chills, diarrhea, and shaking. The symptoms aren't life-threatening.
You can avoid withdrawal symptoms if you gradually stop taking the medicines over a set period of time. Work with your doctor to see how to gradually stop taking the medicine you are on.
What should you do if you think you may be dependent?
If you think you may be dependent, talk to your doctor. Signs of dependence include the following:
- Your drug use is having a bad effect on your family life, your job, or other activities.
- You keep using the drug even though it is actually harming your body or your behaviour.
- You're taking larger amounts of the drug than was intended. Or you're taking it longer than was intended.
When you are dependent on painkillers for a long time, withdrawal can be very difficult. But treatment is available to help you through that process.
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015
Current as of: February 20, 2015
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