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Are Opiates Only Prescribed for Chronic Pain?

Opiates can reduce chronic and acute pain with short-term use but have serious risks, including addiction and fatal overdoses. They are dangerous drugs that should never be given to someone with a history of substance abuse.

Opiates are highly addictive narcotic medications that work in the brain to help relieve pain. These substances bind to the opioid receptors in the brain to depress the central nervous system. Opiates tell your body that you are not in pain; they mask it. They produce a sense of calm, relaxation, and euphoria when taken in high doses. Unfortunately, these sought-after feelings quickly lead to drug abuse and dependence.

When Are Opiates Prescribed?

Opiates are prescribed way too often and aren’t just for chronic pain. They are often used for treating severe acute pain. Opiates can reduce both chronic and acute pain with short-term use, but they have serious risks that include addiction and even death from fatal opioid overdoses that have been on the rise in recent years. Once you’re dependent on opiates to function, getting off these narcotics is not easy and often requires professional help.

The News in Health column by the National Institutes of Health talks about opioids often prescribed for acute pain.

Opioids are often prescribed for acute pain. Acute pain is short-term pain, the kind experienced after an accident or an operation. But other drugs may be just as effective for acute pain, even after surgery, explains Dr. Dena Fischer, a dental health expert at NIH. Some of these drugs, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, don’t require a prescription. People may think that prescription drugs work better for acute pain. But that’s often not the case, Fischer says. Using something other than an opioid first can be especially important to manage acute pain in fields such as dentistry, she adds. Many people receiving opioid prescriptions from dentists are teens or young adults who have never been prescribed an opioid before…people who receive shorter prescriptions are less likely to misuse their pills by taking more than prescribed or taking them after the pain is gone. This also cuts down the chance that the pills could be taken by others. (NIH)

Addiction to Opiates is Very Common

With the opioid epidemic this country is currently experiencing, many prescribers have cracked down on the number of prescriptions they are writing and the number of pills they are dispensing when they feel an opiate prescription is necessary. For many, what starts as a short-term prescription for an injury or illness quickly becomes misuse and addiction. Especially for someone battling a mental health disorder who hasn’t been treated. Opiates make an individual “feel good.”

Opioids are an effective way to treat severe acute pain issues but are unsafe. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen work amazingly well for acute pain issues. These medications are considered anti-inflammatory medications. Anti-inflammatory meds work at the site of pain to reduce inflammation and therefore decrease pain; they don’t just mask the pain. Furthermore, anti-inflammatory medications are probably more effective than opiates for treating acute pain issues and are relatively safe.

We Offer Treatment for Opiate Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with opiate addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Absolute Awakenings follows an evidence-based approach to treating substance abuse disorders. We are committed to providing long-term recovery for those struggling with addiction. Recovery is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so every person that walks through our doors is provided with a unique and individualized experience. Our recovery specialists are waiting to assist you.


  1. Azadfard M, Huecker MR, Leaming JM. Opioid Addiction. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 15, 2023.
  2. Schiller EY, Goyal A, Mechanic OJ. Opioid Overdose. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 15, 2023.
  3. Cohen B, Ruth LJ, Preuss CV. Opioid Analgesics. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 15, 2023.
  4. Managing Pain. NIH News in Health. Published October 2018. Accessed January 15, 2023.

Absolute Awakenings Treatment Center Editoral Guideline

At Absolute Awakenings, we take information integrity seriously. We have dedicated our resources to ensure that all content published to our blog is medically sound. As such, all content on our blog has been thoroughly reviewed by a doctorate level clinician such as a Medical Doctor, or Psy.D, so that you can trust all of the data we publish.

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