What to know about becoming addicted to pain medications

Many people taking medication to control chronic pain are afraid they’ll become addicted to those drugs.

Some people do become addicted, and the results can be devastating. But there are ways to limit your risk.

Candy Pitcher of Cary, N.C., knows all about the fear of addiction. One summer day in 2003, a tree cutter working at Pitcher’s home started to topple from his ladder. “If he hits the ground, he’ll break his back. I have to catch him!” she thought.

Pitcher broke the man’s fall, which crushed a vertebra in her upper back. Ever since then, she’s had chronic pain. To manage it, she’s had a prescription for a drug that’s widely feared and often misunderstood: morphine.

“I’ve never been ‘high’ from morphine,” she says, nor has she ever been tempted to take more than the prescribed amount. But she says she’s wary of becoming addicted.

To read the full story, in which Gary Reisfield, UF physician offers his expert medical opinion, please visit WebMD.