The Dangers of Tolerance with Opioid Pain Management Medications

Written by on 5/17/2017 2:15 AM in , , . It has 1 Comments.

When used for pain management in longstanding cases, the development of drug tolerance with opioid use is fairly common. How can you work with your workers comp insurance consultant to protect workers against tolerance dangers?

Know the Signs
Tolerance is a normal physiological response: The body becoming accustomed to a drug dose over time. If opioids are increased and symptoms stabilize – that's a prime indicator of drug tolerance.

Dangers of Tolerance

  • Dependence
    Dependence occurs when the body gets sick without opioids for 12 hours or more. Symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, insomnia, sweating, irritability, and runny nose.

  • Addiction
    Once opiate tolerance develops, the likelihood of physical dependence (addiction) rises. The increased perception of pain often leads to abuse, as sufferers seek to use the drug on their own terms: (1) higher than prescribed doses, (2) dependence on its mood-altering effects, and (3) doctor shopping or gaining scripts from multiple prescribers.

  • Overdose
    The second leading cause of death in the U.S., opiate overdose is increasingly common with those who’ve developed a tolerance, particularly following periods of abstinence (such as incarceration), after which they return to their previous (but now overly high) dose. This often leads to a fatal overdose, particularly alongside alcohol, benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and antidepressants. Signs include an inebriated look, mood swings, excessive sleepiness, slow breathing, and confusion.

Tolerance is NOT a Permanent Condition
Physical tolerance only remains with continued intake of opiates. Psychological tolerance, however, is another matter, lasting many years post-addiction.

Prevent addiction and protect injured workers with the help of a workers comp insurance consultant who’s on your side. Join the team at Minnesota Comp Advisor today.


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