Luigi Franciosi on the Importance of Following Prescription Directions for Pain Medication
Pain disrupts everything. It can be distracting, overwhelming, or altogether unbearable. Whether chronic or acute, chances are that the pain is manageable — if you follow your doctor’s directions.
Luigi Franciosi is a leading pharmaceuticals expert, consultant, and adjunct professor of pharmacology at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He served for several years as the Chief Operating Officer at Verona Pharma, using his academic experience and business acuity to direct a major organization through the minefield of Canadian and international pharmaceuticals. Throughout his career, Franciosi has had a bird’s eye view of major trends in drug use and misuse across Canada and Europe. Pain medication can be a lifeline, he says, but only if taken correctly and as directed.
Failing to Follow Direction Can Be Dangerous
More than one third of medicine-related hospitalizations occur when a patient fails to take their medications as directed by their doctor, Franciosi explains. Medications are complicated chemical compounds that interact with your body in ways most people don’t understand. Pain medication in particular can come with some serious side effects, both physical and behavioural.
Your Doctor Knows Best
When it comes to pain medication, your doctor may recommend taking the medication at regular intervals such as every eight hours. This may be a strategy to keep your pain in check and not allow it to spike over the course of your day. Treating mild pain is easier than trying to tame severe pain, explains Franciosi. Keeping it at bay can be far more effective than treating it when it becomes unbearable.
When pain does become unbearable, patients can be tempted to take their next dose earlier, effectively increasing the amount of medication in their system. Getting back on schedule can result in a reduced effectiveness as the medication is metabolized, resulting in yet another spike of pain. Sometimes, consistent treatment is the most effective, says Franciosi, at least until the source of the pain can be addressed (if it can).
Organize Your Medications by Dosage
Severe spikes in pain can also result in patients impulsively taking more medication, which leaves them in danger of complications. Particularly in the case of opioids, an effective but highly addictive pain medication, following your doctor’s directions can be the difference between relief and destructive dependence. Franciosi recommends making use of simple yet effective aids. For example, picking up a simple pill box at the drug store can help you organize your medications. They come in handy weekly formats with options of morning and evening compartments. Setting alarms can also be helpful reminders to take your medications at dinner time if taking it with food is necessary. Even marking it in your calendar can be a useful way to ensure you take your full course of medicine, says Franciosi. If you have some left over at the end or your course of treatment, return any extra doses to your local pharmacist.
Luigi Franciosi says that not following your doctor’s directions while taking your pain medication can result in added discomfort or even a trip to the emergency room. In serious cases where opioids are part of the treatment program, addiction can become a risk. Always consult with your doctor if you are struggling to take medications as directed, advises Lui Franciosi. There are often alternative medications that can better match your lifestyle and help you avoid more severe complications.