The Pitfalls of Painkiller Addiction
Painkiller addiction and abuse are serious public health problems in the United States. Over eleven million people abused these drugs in 2017. Painkiller addiction can lead to long-term health problems such as kidney and liver failure and be devastating to your work and social life.
Addiction is a chronic disease with complex causes. However, it is possible to recover, and most people benefit from some form of treatment. With commitment and support, you can live a fulfilling life of sobriety.
What Are Painkillers and Why Do People Use Them?
Painkillers are powerful prescription drugs. Doctors usually prescribe them following an accident or post-surgery and occasionally for chronic pain. Most addictive painkillers contain opioids, and according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, New Jersey doctors wrote 38.9 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in 2018.
While opioid painkillers are incredibly useful in treating short-term pain, many people misuse them. Misuse is defined as using pain medication more often or in higher doses than your prescription requires or to experience its pleasurable effects. It is possible to develop a painkiller addiction using them exactly as your doctor prescribes, but abuse makes it much more likely.
Why Are Painkillers Addictive?
Using opiates repeatedly over time can lead to chemical changes in the brain and produce strong urges to seek or use painkillers that can be very difficult to resist. These changes may be long-lasting and persist even after years of sobriety.
Repeatedly using painkillers may also lead you to develop a physical dependence on the drug. Your brain becomes used to the increased levels of opiates in the body and adapts by decreasing its natural production of opioids. You begin to need higher and higher doses to experience the same effects, and eventually, you can become dependent on the drugs just to feel normal.
While everyone’s experience of addiction is different, certain factors make developing an addiction more likely. These include:
- Unstable home or family environment
- Peer pressure
- Mental health issues
What Are Some Types of Addictive Painkillers?
Opiates are natural sedative drugs derived from the seeds of the opium poppy, such as morphine and codeine. Opiates can produce experiences of euphoria in the user and relieve physical and emotional pain.
Opioids are natural, synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs that have similar effects to opiates. Some common opioid painkiller brands are:
What Are the Dangers of Painkiller Addiction?
If untreated, painkiller addiction can be devastating to your health, relationships, and work-life. Effective treatment, however, can be life-changing and can put you on the path to a life free from addiction.
How Does Painkiller Addiction Affect Your Health?
Painkiller addiction can cause long-term and short-term health problems, including
- Liver and kidney damage
- Overdose, which may lead to respiratory failure and even death. In New Jersey in 2018, over 2500 people died from a drug overdose involving opioid painkillers.
How Does Painkiller Addiction Affect Your Social and Work-Life?
Painkiller addiction and abuse can take over your life. You eventually spend most of your time acquiring and taking painkillers, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, and neglecting work and social responsibilities. Some users are driven to commit crime to fund their habit.
Addiction can also strain relationships with family members and other loved ones. You may lie to hide your addiction from those around you or prioritize your drug use over your relationships.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Painkiller Addiction?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you or a loved one has a painkiller addiction. However, there are certain signs and symptoms you can look out for. These signs can be behavioral, mental, and physical.
Behavioral signs of painkiller addiction include:
- Using painkillers even when the pain has gone away
- Lying about pain to get medication
- ‘Doctor shopping’ – getting multiple prescriptions for the same medication
- Slurred speech
- Thinking and talking about painkillers frequently
- Spending less time with friends and loved ones
- Prioritizing painkillers over work and family life
- Taking high doses of the drug
Mental and physical signs and symptoms may include:
- Sweating profusely
- Coordination problems
- Sleeping difficulties
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
Painkiller addiction is a serious illness that can take over your life. At Enlightened Solutions, we provide clients with the tools you need to overcome your addiction and move forward in your sober life. Our individualized programs are rooted in the 12-step philosophy, and we focus on healing the entire person. Our treatment modalities include talk therapy and group support, as well as holistic healing methods such as equine therapy and meditation. As a co-occurring treatment center, we treat any underlying mental health issues alongside your addiction. Our treatment center is on the southern shore of New Jersey, the perfect place for healing and relaxation.
If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.