Tuesday, April 16, 2024

How To Help Someone Addicted To Pain Pills

Needing To Increase Doses

9 Signs Someone You Love is Addicted to Opioids (Pain Medications)

Tolerance is caused by regular, repeated use of opioids. The body adapts to the drugs and requires higher doses to relieve pain or achieve euphoric effects. This is a natural adaptation that can be caused by therapeutic use or misuse of pain pills.

If your tolerance is increasing and you keep chasing a pleasurable experience caused by opioids, you may be addicted. If youre able to stop using the drugs before tolerance develops, you probably arent addicted.

What Are The Signs Of Opioid Addiction In Aging Adults

Getting a clear understanding of your parents behavior about their prescription pain pills can be challenging and even more so if you have concerns that there may be memory issues going on as well. Some of the signs of opioid addiction can mirror signs of dementia or Alzheimers. Refer to the following list as what to watch for.

Opioid Addiction Symptom Watch List

  • Mood swings or changes in behavior
  • Increased sleepiness or insomnia
  • Daytime drowsiness, slurring of speech
  • Obsession about their medications
  • Noticeable increase in amount taken or frequency of use
  • Multiple prescription bottles of the same medication from different doctors
  • Reserve medication stashes scattered all over the home
  • Emergency pill boxes in the car, purse or wallet
  • Varied pharmacists, brick-and-mortar and online

What Are The Signs Of An Addiction

People addicted to drugs may change their behavior. Possible signs include:

  • Mixing with different groups of people or changing friends
  • Spending time alone and avoiding time with family and friends
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Getting into trouble with the law
  • Attending work or school on an erratic schedule
  • Experiencing financial hardship

Read Also: What Are The Symptoms Of Addiction

What Causes Opioid Addiction

Opioid drugs alter your brain by creating artificial endorphins. Besides blocking pain, these endorphins make you feel good. Too much opioid use can cause your brain to rely on these artificial endorphins. Once your brain does this, it can even stop producing its own endorphins. The longer you use opioids, the more likely this is to happen. You also will need more opioids over time because of drug tolerance.

Drug tolerance is when your body, over time, gets used to the effects of a drug. As this happens, you may need to take a higher dose of the drug to get the same effect. When you take opioids over time, you need a higher dose to get the same pain relief.

If you stop using an opioid for a period of time, your tolerance will begin to fade. If you need to begin taking it again, you most likely will not need your former higher dose. That can be too much for the body to take. If you stop taking a medication, and then resume, talk to your doctor about dosage.

How Can You Avoid Addiction To Opioids

Signs Someone is Addicted to Pain Pills

If you or a loved one is considering taking opioids to manage pain, it is vital to talk to a physician anesthesiologist or other pain medicine specialist about using them safely and exploring alternative options if needed. Learn how to work with your physician anesthesiologist or another physician to use opioids more wisely and safely and explore what pain management alternatives might work for you.

Read Also: How To Get Rid Of An Addictive Personality

Set Yourself Up For Success

Detoxifying your body and experiencing withdrawal is hard. But staying clean and drug free for the rest of your life might be even harder. Remember that you dont have to do it alone. Friends, family, and a network of support organizations can be there to help.

Support can come from many places, such as the well-known organization Narcotics Anonymous. If youre Christian, you may enjoy a church-based program, such as Celebrate Recovery. The important thing is finding something that helps you stay clean and holds you accountable.

Experiencing Work Or Legal Problems

Individuals addicted to opioids are incapable of performing at school or work. Theyre often late, absent and distracted. Eventually, they lose jobs and have trouble finding work. Some people rely on friends or family for support. Others become homeless.

They also tend to experience legal problems because they have to steal to fund their addiction. They may do things to get drugs that they wouldnt have done before they became addicted. Or they may end up in jail for drug possession or dealing.

The primary symptom of painkiller addiction is an inability to quit using the drugs. If you try to quit but are unable to, youre probably addicted. Opioid addiction treatment can help you overcome withdrawal and learn methods for avoiding relapse.

If someone you know is exhibiting multiple symptoms of opioid addiction, encourage them to talk to a doctor or rehab facility about treatment. Opioid addiction is a deadly disease. Convincing someone to go to rehab can save their life.

Medical Disclaimer:

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How Pain Pills Work

Prescription opioids interact with opioid receptors in the brain, intercepting and warding off pain sensations. They also slow down heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rates, inducing a sense of relaxation. Most prescription opioid drugs are classified as Schedule II controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration . Even though they do have accepted medical use, they also have a high potential for diversion, misuse, and dependence.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that about 54 million Americans have misused a prescription drug at least once in their lives. At the time of the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health , approximately 4.3 million American adults were considered to be currently abusing prescription painkillers.

Taking these drugs, even as directed, can lead to physical and psychological dependence, as the brain gets used to the chemical changes incurred by their interference. When an opioid drug enters the brain, fills an opioid receptor, and depresses the central nervous system, it also increases the presence of dopamine and endorphins. Dopamine is one of the brains chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, that signals feelings of pleasure. With repeated chemical interference, the brain may stop making and absorbing dopamine naturally, and brain chemistry may be negatively impacted. This is called drug dependence. When an opioid drug wears off, dopamine levels dip and both physical and emotional discomfort can occur.

Living With Opioid Addiction

Addicted to Pain Pills: Randis Story

The first step toward recovery is recognizing that you have a problem with opioids. If you think you are addicted to them, know that there is help for you. The first step in breaking addiction is realizing that you control your own behavior.

The following steps will help you fight your addiction:

  • Commit to quitting. Take control of your behavior and commit to fighting your addictions.
  • Get help from your doctor. They can be your biggest ally, even if youre trying to quit a drug they prescribed. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medicine that will help ease your cravings for the addictive drug. Talking with your doctor or a counselor about your problems and your drug use can be helpful, too.
  • Get support. Certain organizations are dedicated to helping people who have addictions. They want you to succeed and will give you the tools and support you need to quit and move on with your life. Ask your family and friends for support, too.

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They Exhibit Symptoms Of Prescription Drug Intoxication

The first step to identifying an abuse problem is knowing how to tell if someone is high on pills. Since prescription medications encompass a wide variety of different drugs, each with their own effects, weve categorized the physical warning signs by the three most commonly abused prescription meds: opioids, stimulants, and CNS depressants.


  • Slurred speech
  • Poor memory

It may be difficult to distinguish between the effects of opioid painkillers and sedatives due to the similarity of their symptoms. One of the main differentiators to look out for is the euphoria that typically comes with taking opioids. An abuser of this class of drug will display extended lethargy and drowsiness but will also show signs of an elated mood as well. Whats more, their coordination when walking is likely going to be worse on sedatives than on opioids.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Painkiller Addiction

There are lots of signs that you may have an addiction to painkillers. These include:

  • Visiting lots of different doctors to try and get prescription painkillers
  • Trying to buy prescription painkillers online
  • Stealing or borrowing painkillers from other people
  • Continuing to take prescription painkillers even when your pain has gone
  • Focusing more and more time on obtaining, using and recovering from the effects of painkillers, whether these are legal or illegal
  • Feeling as though painkillers have taken over your life
  • Feeling as though you want to stop taking painkillers but finding that you cant
  • Intense mood swings
  • Depression

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The Effects Of Substance Use Disorder On Loved Ones

Substance use disorders are brain diseases that can negatively affect a persons behavior and fundamentally alter ones personality. It is not uncommon for people suffering from SUDs to act in a way that is alienating and destructive to their friends and families. For example, a common scenario is theft of property or money to purchase drugs. Families can feel hurt and betrayed by this behavior, especially if they dont understand that addiction is a disease. Family members can feel lied to, cheated, manipulated, and at times even threatened. With any signs of progress, with each stay in rehab, they become hopeful, only to have their hopes dashed again and again.

What can you do if you have a loved one addicted to opiates? This question has no easy answers, but does have several distinct schools of thought.

How Are Medicines Used To Treat Opioid Addiction

Prescription Drug Addiction in Canada: Can You Spot The 5 ...

Methadone, when administered properly, is included in treatment with counseling and is always provided in a clinic setting. It helps to block the effects of opioids and to reduce cravings.

The medicine buprenorphine also helps opioid cravings without giving the same high as other opioid drugs. Prescribed by many physicians, this is typically a daily dose placed under the tongue and can also be delivered as a once-a-month injection or through thin tubes placed under the skin every six months.

These medicines both activate opioid receptors in the body that suppress cravings, and are effective and similar in safety and side effects and typically used for maintenance treatment. They can be used as a taper agent as well but some patients relapse, and we need to try something different with those patients who relapse several times. Patients who are highly motivated and have good social support have a tendency to do better.

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How Addictive Are Opioids

It takes a couple of weeks to become physically dependent on an opioid, but that varies by individual. If you take an opioid for a day or two, it should not be a problem and, generally, you will not become addicted. However, some studies show even the first dose of an opioid can have physiological effects.

For some time in this country we believed patients werent at risk of addiction. No one knows for sure the percentage of those who are at risk. What we do know now through an annual survey of drug use in the U.S., when people were asked if they had used heroin, researchers found that 50 percent of those who had also had a longtime history of opioid use and 50 percent of those went on to have problematic heroin use.

We also know that the duration of opioid use can lead to physical dependence. If youre taking an opioid regularly for a period of time theres a chance that youll become physically dependent, and thats a risk factor for continued opioid use.

Safe Ways To Cope With Insomnia

Recovery can be tricky when you are addicted to sleeping pills. Every night when you try to go to sleep, you face the temptation to relapse. Giving up sleeping pills will allow the insomnia that led you to first seek out a prescription to return, and a insomnia is also a withdrawal symptom. Its important to get professional medical and psychological help to determine if your underlying insomnia is caused by a medical condition, or a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression. Treating the source problem will usually cure the insomnia.

For those people who were simply born with insomniac tendencies, there are behavioral changes that can help, such as practicing good sleep hygiene. This means establishing regular habits that support high quality sleep.

To fall asleep faster, and to sleep better for longer periods of time, you should:

  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine in the afternoon and evening.
  • Limit daytime naps to 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Dont spend too much time in bed. If you cant fall asleep, get up and walk around or read for a while, so that you dont associate your bed with wakefulness.
  • Avoid screen time as bedtime approachesif you must use a phone or tablet, put it on a warm, nighttime setting, and dont hold it close to your face, as the light will block your bodys production of the melatonin you need to fall asleep.
  • Get regular exercise.
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    Youve Been Using Painkillers For A Long Time

    You probably started taking pain medication because something hurt. If youâre still using narcotic painkillers long after the pain should have gone away, Schrank says it is time to ask for help.

    Maybe youâre taking them because you like the way they make you feel, instead of to relieve pain. Or maybe youâve started to have physical cravings. Both are signs of an issue.

    âPain medication is intended to bridge a gap or get you through a rough patch,â Schrank says. âItâs not really meant to be a way to maintain or manage chronic pain

    Signs Someone Is Addicted To Pain Pills

    I’m addicted to Pain Pills

    Doctors who frequently treat patients for opioid abuse say that while it may be difficult to see the signs someone is addicted to pain pills initially, the more severe the addiction becomes, the easier it is to see.

    In general, the signs someone is addicted to pain pills are the things that cannot be explained by something else in their life.

    The classic signs of opiate addiction are as follows:

  • Weight loss a common physical signs of opiate use is weight loss due to malnutrition, metabolic changes and interference with the reward centers of the brain.
  • Nodding off Opiates depress the nervous system, causing the persons breathing to slow down. They may dose off in the middle of a conversation or in the middle of dinner.
  • Sleeping habits While on the drug, excessive sleeping is common as well as periods of prolonged sleeping. When the addict runs out of the drug, they may suffer from insomnia.
  • Constant flu-like symptoms One of the physical signs of opiate use that is seen in many users is flu-like symptoms. This includes a runny nose, headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting common withdrawal symptoms.
  • Lack of hygiene People who abuse drugs tend to become so focused on it that all other activities become less important, even personal hygiene.
  • Drop in libido One of the side-effects of opioids is that it lowers a persons estrogen and testosterone levels. This causes their sex-drive to be lowered, but they may try avoiding the problem by placing blame on others.
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    What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline

    SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

    How To Help Someone Addicted To Pills

    While its not always easy to help someone who has become addicted to pills due to the changes that take place in the brain, its possible. Pill addiction can be treated successfully to help people stop abusing pills and return to productive lives.

    If you believe that your loved one is addicted pills, you shouldnt try to use force or isolate the person. First, you need to educate yourself about the way people become addicted to pills. Then, you should take the time to walk the person through the information that will help them realize theyre misusing drugs and discover what to do about it. If the person cooperates, you can start by locating an addiction recovery center. Such centers will have doctors with expertise in the area of addiction.

    Encourage your loved one to seek help for their pill addiction. Like any other chronic disease, addiction can be managed effectively. Treatment helps people counter the disruptive work of drugs in the brain, helping them regain control of their lives.

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    Treatment For Opiate Addiction

    There are many treatment options to choose from, but research suggests the most effective form of treatment for Opiate addiction is inpatient detox followed by inpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab centers have specialized programs for individuals suffering from this type of substance use disorder. These programs help patients dig deep within themselves to uncover the root cause of their drug use. Knowing what caused patients to use drugs or alcohol in the first place will help prevent future triggers while in recovery.

    Many individuals quickly find that the rewards of progressing through a treatment program far outweigh the high they formerly gained from drug use.

    Effective forms of therapy used during treatment often include cognitive behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, and 12-step programs.

    Featured Centers Offering Opiate Addiction Treatment

    • About

    Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelors and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffreys desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffreys mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

    Clinically Reviewed:

    Theresa Parisi

    • About

    All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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