Painkiller addiction, also referred to as pain-pill or opioid addiction is becoming increasingly common. Most prescription pills are addictive and the most powerful of them are called opioids or opiates. There are a variety of reasons for the rise in addiction including the deliberate deception by big pharma about how strong the medication was. Doctors who underestimated the strength of the pills freely prescribed them to unsuspecting people who eventually found themselves addicted. Hello, the opioid crisis and absolute devastation of people’s lives. Here are the symptoms of painkiller addiction as well as risk factors and treatment options.
Symptoms of painkiller addiction
For some people, painkiller addiction begins innocently. They have a pain prescription to help them function properly. Then they develop a dependency and start taking more daily and may even keep taking the pills after the underlying health issue has been dealt with.
Painkiller addiction is common because pain pills numb your pain, provide a slight sense of relaxation, and/or cause euphoria because of the dopamine burst. You should act fast if you suspect you are becoming or have become addicted to pain medication.
Painkiller addiction has physical signs including:
- Declining physical health
- Changes in eating habits
- Lack of sleep or increase in sleep
- Excessive sweating
- Dilated pupils
- Slurring of speech
- Withdrawal symptoms if drug use is stopped
Behavioural and psychosocial symptoms
These are the behavioural, emotional, psychological, and social symptoms of painkiller addiction.
- Worsening mental and emotional health
- Severe mood swings or hostility
- Depression and anxiety
- Continued use of painkillers after initial pain or health problem is gone
- Always carrying painkillers wherever you go
- Buying a large number of painkillers
- Increased risky behaviour
- Stealing, forging, or selling prescriptions
- Thinking about painkillers a lot
- Taking higher doses than prescribed
- Appearing to be high, unusually energetic, revved up, or sedated
- Requesting early refills or continually “losing” prescriptions, so that more prescriptions must be written
- Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor
- Feeling defensive when asked about drug abuse
Painkiller addiction has cognitive symptoms including:
- Lack of focus
- Poor decision making or judgment
Causes and risk factors
Painkillers are often prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe pain associated with injuries or illnesses. They are powerful drugs that work by disrupting the transmission of pain signals from the nerves to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). They intercept and ward off those pain signals and sensations. This effect increases the likelihood of painkiller addiction for most people.
Causes of painkiller addiction
Genetics: People with family members who have struggled with addiction are more prone to addiction in later life.
Social or environmental: People living in chaotic homes and surroundings are more likely to develop an addiction later in life.
Physical or biological: Prescription pain pills reward the brain by releasing dopamine. For this reason, it is posited that people born with dopamine deficiencies or low dopamine levels have a higher likelihood of getting addicted.
Risk factors for painkiller addiction
- Past or present addictions
- Pre-existing psychiatric problems
- Peer pressure
- Easy access to prescription drugs
- Lack of understanding about the dangers of abusing prescription
Effects of addiction
Painkiller addiction can have a wide range of consequences including:
- Engaging in risky behaviours because of poor judgment
- Using illegal or recreational drugs
- Being involved in crime
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Decreased academic or work performance
- Social isolation
- Financial problems
- Crumbling interpersonal relationships
- Potential self-harming behaviours
Prevention of pain pills addiction
Anyone can become addicted to pills. They are by their nature addictive so it’s in everyone’s best interest to take the medication with painkiller addiction prevention in mind. Here are ways to reduce your risk of addiction.
- Make sure you’re getting the right medication by communicating clearly with your doctor about your condition.
- Check-in regularly with your doctor about your medication and the dosage.
- Follow directions carefully.
- Know what your medication does so that you know what to expect.
- Never take another person’s prescription.
- Don’t order prescriptions online unless they are from a trustworthy pharmacy.
Treatment of pain pills addiction
Treatment of painkiller addiction often requires a supervised detoxification program. This is because of the potential withdrawal symptoms which may require experienced professionals to present. Some people may not be able to go into a residential program. In that case, you should speak to your doctor and get their advice about how to do it safely at home.
Recovering from painkiller addiction is not a quick process because getting addicted does not happen overnight. Overcoming any type of addiction requires full commitment from the addict. It helps to have a strong support system in place including counsellors or therapists who may be able to help you figure out why it happened and help you prevent a relapse. Painkillers are addictive by nature and there’s no shame in having a problem or needing help to solve it. Seek help if you need it.
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