Types of Pain Medications & Addiction Levels

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

prescription pain medsPrescription pain medications are commonly used to curb pain following a minimally invasive spine surgery. However, there is a reason these medications require a prescription – they are highly addictive. Addiction to pain meds is a rampant issue in the US. In this article we are going to talk about the most addictive pain medications and how to avoid becoming addicted to these medications after your spine surgery.


This is the most addictive class of prescription drugs. Common examples of opioids include:

  • OxyContin
  • Vicodin
  • Demerol

These drugs work by reducing your perception of pain. If taken in excess over time, patients can develop dependence to these drugs. That’s why they are highly controlled. If your provider prescribes you an opioid, they will give strict instructions on how much to take and how frequently. Initially the doses will be stronger, and the patient will be weaned off and onto less addictive pain meds.


NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are over the counter pain meds such as:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

You have likely heard of (and probably taken) most of these drugs. They are quite common and not very addictive. They are not as effective at treating intense pain as opioids, but they offer fewer side-effects. The goal of a post-op pain management program is to begin with the stronger prescription drugs if necessary, and gradually transition to NSAIDs as post-op pain decreases.

Do not be afraid to take pain meds if they have been prescribed to you. As long as you stick to your doctor-recommended regiment, you will most likely not become addicted. However, if you think you may be developing dependence for a prescription drugs, talk to your physician about how to avoid the addiction before it becomes a serious problem. Always stick to the prescription schedule set by your physician.

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