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When Pain Pills Become Addictions

When an injury occurs, doctors prescribe pain pills to help ease the pain so that the patient can heal. However, most of what has been prescribed has been opioids, which are effective short-term, but they’re also highly addictive. Long-term use of these painkillers can lead to physical dependence, and that’s when the trouble begins. Keep reading to learn more about when pain pills can turn to addictions.  

The Psychology of Addiction

When someone takes an addictive substance longer than necessary, the body adapts to the presence of the substance. If one stops the drug abruptly, without allowing the body to gradually get used to no longer having the drug, the body goes through withdrawal. A person can also build up a tolerance to the drug and need more of it to get the same effect.   The brain gets used to the euphoric feeling the drug emits and, therefore, shuts off its own feel-good chemical — dopamine. When someone “comes off” the drug, they can experience depression, until the drug is entirely out of their system and dopamine is released once again. Painkillers don’t cure anything but simply masks the pain. If someone is continuously taking a painkiller to dull the pain, they end up taking more, due to their body building up a tolerance of the drug. Soon, they find they can’t function without the drug. This is called addiction.  

Symptoms of Withdrawal

There are several symptoms you can experience when going through withdrawal, and every person is different. Some of these symptoms include:  
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goosebumps (known as “cold turkey”)
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
  A serious effect from opioids that can be dangerous is respiratory depression, which means that a high dose of the drug causes breathing to slow down to the point it stops, and the person can die.  

Painkiller Addiction Statistics

The most recent data (2018) on opioid addiction shows that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. alone is a staggering $78.5 billion per year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Vital Statistics System, approximately 120 people die from an opioid overdose every day. By the end of 2018, 46,802 people died from an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl.    In the same year, close to 1.7 million people suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid painkillers. Around 526,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder. Also, about 21 to 29 percent of patients that were prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. There was around a 30 percent increase in opioid overdoses from July of 2016 to September of 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.  

Painkiller Abuse Treatment

The first line of defense again painkiller abuse is ensuring safe, effective, yet non-addictive substances are prescribed to help with pain management. Also, counseling can help significantly if the pain becomes chronic, and there’s an emotional attachment to the pain.   For those individuals addicted to painkillers, contacting a recovery treatment center should be the first step. Getting help in a rehab center allows the person to take back their life from addiction and learn new coping skills to deal with life’s challenges. Many treatment methods include a holistic approach (treating mind, body, and spirit). They may involve cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, exercise, trauma healing, yoga, and other modalities to help people restore their mental health. It helps them, as well, in detoxing and recovering in a safe and comfortable setting.  

Have a Painkiller Addiction? Contact Ardu

We know the pain and heartache of addiction and are here to help you or your loved one going through it. Please contact us for information about our treatments and recovery goals. We can answer your questions and address your concerns so you feel comfortable with what we have to offer. Call us today and start the process of healing from drug abuse.