You Arent Acting Like Yourself
Painkiller addiction can cause mood and behavioral changes that you might notice in yourself:
- Are you feeling nervous and jittery?
- Are you angry when you have no reason to be?
- Do you find that you dont care about things that you used to care about even important things like personal hygiene, your job, or your family responsibilities?
- Do you spend much more time sleeping than you used to?
These can all be signs of a problem, and if theyve manifested since you began taking painkillers, then theyre very likely signs that you have a problem with painkillers.
These changes may have happened gradually, so you may not have realized that it was happening. But if you look around and discover that you dont feel like yourself and that your life seems very different than it did before you began taking painkillers, talk to your doctor.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Painkiller Addiction
The symptoms of painkiller addiction depend on a number of factors including the type of painkiller drug you have been consuming, the amount and frequency of your painkiller use, as well as varying from person to person. However, the following behavioural/social, psychological and physical symptoms may indicate that a harmful painkiller addiction is present.
What Is The Timeline For Prescription Painkiller Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms typically last about one week. They can start as soon as six hours after last use, and tend to peak about three days after cessation. Symptoms of withdrawal include the following:
- Intense cravings to use
Addicts may experience long-term psychological problems related to prescription painkiller abuse, such as depression and anxiety. Fortunately, these problems can be successfully treated with antidepressants and therapy.
How Addiction To Painkillers Occurs
Addiction to opioids doesnt occur overnight. Before addiction occurs, theres a period of misuse. This misuse will eventually lead to addiction for many people.
Signs of opioid abuse include:
- Taking medication in a higher dose or more often than prescribed
- Taking opioids not prescribed to you
- Using opioids to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression
- Smoking, snorting, or injecting opioids designed to be taken by mouth.
You Go Out Of Your Way To Get More Painkillers
Although there have been cases of doctors who are irresponsible with their prescription pads, most doctors realize that addiction is a risk and wont keep you on painkillers forever, especially not for an injury that should be temporary.
If your doctor feels that youve been taking the painkillers for too long or that youre displaying disturbing signs, they may cut off your prescription or reduce it to try to wean you off. And if youve already become addicted, you may take drastic measures to obtain more medication.
This can include doctor shopping that is, seeking out the same prescription from more than one doctor.
You may even intentionally look for doctors who have a reputation for overprescribing. You might also try ordering drugs online, stealing medications from family members or friends either old leftover medications or medications that theyre currently taking, stealing prescription pads from doctors offices, or buying other peoples prescriptions from them.
In some cases, you might move from buying medications to buying street drugs or intentionally harming yourself so you can get a prescription from an emergency room doctor.
The signs of painkiller addiction can range from subtle to alarming. Its important to recognize the risk and watch yourself for signs of addictive behavior, and also to listen to loved ones and medical professionals who express concern.
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Painkiller Usage Demographics In The Us
Prescription painkiller misuse has declined from peak years, but usage remains a concern
Among the 9.9 million people aged 12 or older who misused prescription pain relievers in 2018, an estimated 5.5 million, or 2% of the population, misused hydrocodone products, making it the most commonly misused type of painkiller. These products included Norco, Lortab, Vicodin, Zohydro ER, and generic hydrocodone. Oxycodone products were the painkiller of choice for an estimated 3.4 million people, or 1.2% of the population, which included OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Roxicodone, and generic oxycodone. About 718,000 people misused buprenorphine products, 269,000 misused prescription fentanyl products, and 256,000 misused methadone.
OxyContin saw peak usage among 12th graders in 2005, with 5.5% of adolescents aged 17-18 using the drug that year. Peak usage for 10th graders was in 2009, with 5.1% of adolescents aged 15-16 using, and for 8th graders, it was 2006, with 2.6% of adolescents aged 14-15 using. Vicodin saw peak usage among 12th graders in 2003, with 10.5% using. Tenth-grader use peaked in 2009 with 8.1%, and 8th-grader use peaked in 2006 with 3%.
While the number of opioids prescribed peaked in 2010 then decreased annually through 2015, the amount prescribed per person was three times higher in 2015 than in 1999. Prescriptions for opioid-based pain relievers remain high and inconsistent across the country, varying widely from one county to the next.
What Are The Dangers Of Mixing Painkillers With Alcohol
Mixing alcohol and painkillers is incredibly dangerous. Both types of substances act as depressants, and the most dangerous side-effect of combining the two is a decreased respiratory rate. This can cause seizures, coma, and even death. The perilous symptoms of mixing alcohol with painkillers can include the following:
- Changes in blood sugar, which can cause seizures
Mixing alcohol and painkillers enhances the effects of both substances, and combining them has lead to a rise in overdose deaths in the United States. Call 911 if you suspect a drug overdose immediately. Even if a person survives a drug overdose, they can experience lifelong brain damage. It is crucial to get them the help they need before they experience a seizure or a coma.
People who are addicted to prescription painkillers need integrated, intense care to help them beat this incredibly difficult addiction. Because a lot of people who abuse painkillers also genuinely need pain management for severe injuries and illnesses, they require a specialized, customized treatment plan with a team of doctors and therapists. They may be able to receive lower doses of painkillers under a doctors supervision at an inpatient detox facility. Or get relief from non-opioid analgesics.
Some of the early signs of painkiller addiction include:
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Learn About Prescription Painkiller Addiction
It should be made clear that absolutely no one decides to become addicted to prescription painkillers. No one swallows their first OxyContin and thinks about how theyre now going to alienate their loved ones, lose their job, or become involved on the wrong side of law enforcement. However, while the abuse of illegal street drugs is on the decline in the United States, the abuse of prescription painkillers in on the rise.
Like all commonly abused drugs, opiate narcotics prescription painkillers are known to stimulate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasurable feelings. Usage of opiate painkillers creates, alongside analgesia, feelings of happiness and the sensation that all is right with the world. These feelings are similarly stimulated by eating food, drinking water, caring for children, and having sex, all activities necessary for sustaining life. As such, these activities, like prescription painkillers, stimulate the reward system of the brain and release a flood of a neurotransmitter called dopamine.
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Withdrawal And Overdose From Prescription Painkillers
Withdrawal occurs when a person has become physically dependent on prescription painkillers and then abruptly stops using or cuts down on the usage. The most common withdrawal symptoms from prescription painkillers can include:
- Restlessness and irritability
- Involuntary leg movements
- Cold flashes with goose bumps
An overdose from prescription painkillers occurs when a person inadvertently or intentionally consumes more of the medication than his or her body is able to handle. Overdose from prescription pain meds is a life-threatening emergency and 911 should be contacted immediately. Symptoms of overdose include:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Slowed or stopped respiration rate
- Pinpoint pupils
- Death from respiratory arrest or damage to vital organs
Effects Of Prescription Painkiller Addiction
The resulting effects that can occur when an individual abuses prescription painkillers can be far-reaching and lead to disastrous outcomes. Failing to seek treatment for a chemical dependency concern of this kind could lead to the following:
- Inability to abstain from continued use of prescription painkillers
- Interaction with the legal system
- Financial strife
Withdrawl & Overdose
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Signs Of Opiate Abuse
Opiates, also known as Opioid Painkillers, include prescription drugs such as Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, and Morphine. These substances are effective pain relievers when taken as directed by a physician. However, the calming effects that Opioid Painkillers produce are habit-forming and can lead to future patterns of abuse.
Examples of Opiate abuse include taking the medication more frequently or in larger amounts than originally prescribed. Continued patterns of Opiate abuse can lead to a spiraling addiction, which is difficult to overcome without the help of medical staff in rehab. If you suspect a loved one is struggling with a dependence on Painkillers, its important to take action immediately before the situation becomes worse.
Detecting drug abuse early on is the most effective way of preventing an addiction from developing.
To help identify whether someone is battling a Painkiller abuse problem, there are several physical and behavioral warning signs to watch out for.
The most common physical and behavioral signs of Opiate abuse and addiction are:
- Needle marks on arms and legs from intravenous use.
- Constricted, pinpoint pupils.
- Engaging in risky activities, such as driving under the influence.
- Visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain more prescriptions.
Behavioral Symptoms Of Painkiller Usage And Abuse
How painkillers affect the brain
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health groups numerous prescription painkillers together, including methadone, Demerol, and any products containing oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, buprenorphine, morphine, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and tramadol. Any opioid-based painkiller affects the brain similarly.
The brain is full of molecules called receptors that receive signals from other parts of the body. Opioids attach to these receptors and block pain messages being sent to the brain, which is why theyre used in painkillers. They also cause large amounts of dopamine to be released in the brains pleasure center, which floods the body with feelings of pleasure, well-being, and euphoria. This reward encourages a person to repeat the behavior to recapture this feeling. Over time, taking opioid-based painkillers can change the brain, leading to dependence and addiction.
Behavioral signs of painkiller usage and abuse
Once a person develops a tolerance and begins taking more painkillers, theyre at risk of becoming dependent on the drug, which can swiftly lead to addiction. Abusing painkillers can also lead to changes in behavior, including an inability to stop using even when the individual knows its causing health, psychological, personal, and/or financial problems.
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How Does Painkiller Addiction Start
Many times, addiction starts innocently enough. Someone has surgery or an injury and is prescribed medication for pain. With time, someone may develop a tolerance and need more and more of the drug to feel the effects. With prolonged and escalating use, addiction often follows. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a dysfunction of the reward, motivation and memory mechanisms of the brain. So, with time, the body and mind come to depend on the drug just to feel normal. What started as the need to relieve pain has become distorted. The need for painkillers dominates our mental, physical and emotional processes.
If my doctor prescribed it, it must be alright, right?
Well, maybe not. Painkiller addiction is rampant in our country. Experts estimate that 8.5 million Americans are addicted to prescription pain medicine right now. While painkillers are highly addictive for most people, someone with mental or emotional disorders is even more likely to become addicted. Those who struggle with anxiety or depression may find relief when taking painkillers. The drugs can easily become a way to self-medicate for daily emotional distress. People start taking the pills for pain relief then find they need the pills for relief from anxiety or depression.
If painkillers make me feel better in so many ways, why do I need to stop?
Effects Of Pain Pill Addiction
The effects of prescription painkiller abuse and addiction can lead to devastating consequences, leaving virtually no area of an addicts life unharmed. Effects will range from mild to severe, depending upon ones individual makeup, the frequency of which one is using, the length of abuse, and a combination of other factors. The most common effects of prescription painkiller abuse include:
- Social isolation
- Inability to quit using prescription painkillers despite multiple attempts to cut down or stop using
Withdrawal & Overdose
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You Think About Your Medication A Lot
One of the first signs of addiction is becoming preoccupied with two things: when you can take your next dose and whether your supply is enough, says Debra Jay, co-author of Love First: A Familyâs Guide to Intervention.
Watching the clock so you can take your next dose may be a concern, notes Joe Schrank, MSW, co-founder of Rebound Brooklyn recovery center in New York.
âIf itâs fresh dental work and youâre in pain, it makes sense,” he says. But if itâs gone on for a while, itâs possible youâve become dependent on the medication.
Dependency and addiction are not the same thing. You can be physically dependent on a drug but not addicted.
Confused? Here’s the difference. When you’re physically dependent on a drug, your body has built up a tolerance to it, and you need higher doses of the medication to get the same effect.
When you’re addicted to a drug, it’s more than physical, itâs also emotional. The addiction can be associated with uncontrolled behaviors. You keep using the drug, even though it’s causing you serious problems at work or school, in your family, or in your social life.
Painkiller Addiction: Symptoms Signs And Treatment
We speak to Dr Roger Henderson about the signs, symptoms, and effects of prescription painkiller addiction.
Painkillers are essential for every health and wellbeing. If you have a headache, back pain or sore muscles, paracetamol and ibuprofen can help. However, painkiller addiction is on the rise in the UK and people are using over-the-counter medication to excess, damaging their health in the process.
But how do you know if you’re addicted to painkillers, and what are the risks involved? Dr Roger Henderson explains:
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Painkiller Addiction Treatment Medications
Various medications can be prescribed for the treatment of opioid addiction specifically, though some of these are typically considered more appropriate for individuals addicted to extremely problematic illegal opioids such as heroin. Some medications may be used as a substitute for other opioids enabling dosages to be managed and tapered down over time others block the actions of opioid receptors in the brain, negating the effects of opioids others still address specific withdrawal symptoms during and after any detox process.
While there is no pharmaceutical cure for painkiller addiction, medication can certainly assist with overcoming dependence and with the process of detoxification and withdrawal. If you are addicted to painkillers and wish to find out more about the role which medication can play in your treatment, speak with an addiction specialist.
Learn More About Painkiller Addiction
For people who suffer from chronic pain, taking prescription pain medication can be life-changing, as these medications can allow them to resume healthy functioning without being hindered by their condition. When a physician makes a recommendation for a painkiller regimen, warnings about the addictive nature of these medications are frequently provided and patients are often advised to closely follow their physicians instructions for how and when to take them. However, if these warning are not heeded, abuse and addiction can result.
Many of the prescription pain medications that exist today contain oxycodone or hydrocodone. These active ingredients make these medications habit-forming and also make overcoming this type of chemical dependency so difficult. In the event that a person abuses painkillers, it is likely that he or she will experience painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms once these substances are no longer in his or her system. These withdrawal symptoms are often painful enough to keep a person trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction. Furthermore, if an individual is battling a mental health condition at the same time, it could be even more cumbersome to defeat a painkiller addiction if the necessary skills for coping are not present.
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Therapy For Painkillers Addiction
Therapy lies at the heart of all addiction treatment. Therapy both uncovers and tackles the psychological and behavioural causes of addiction, and prepares the addict for a life of abstinence by enabling them to remediate those problematic behaviours and providing them with psychological defence mechanisms against relapse.
In rehab facilities, therapy is provided in a range of models and formats each addict may need to experiment with different therapy methodologies before settling on a structure which best suit their own needs.