- Reviewed by Toni Golen, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor
You've had a stressful few months: major surgery led to lingering pain worsened by vague anxiety, the unsettled sense you aren't quite back to normal. Your pain has subsided, but you've decided to ask your doctor for another refill of the opioid painkillers she prescribed after your operation. Just a little longer... just until the nerves shake out, you think.
Seems harmless enough, right? But staying on opioids to allay anxiety, rather than pain, is a slippery slope, Harvard experts say. It's also one of the most common ways well-meaning people slide into opioid addiction (formally called opioid use disorder), a problem responsible for about three-quarters of the nation's overdose deaths.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
About the Author
Maureen Salamon, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
About the Reviewer
Toni Golen, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.