Since 1995, when the FDA approved Oxycontin (oxycodone) for medical use to treat chronic or acute pain, the abuse of prescription painkillers has risen steadily. Many believe the current opioid epidemic can be traced, at least in part, to the legitimizing of a powerful synthetic opioid by physicians, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies, without acknowledging its addictiveness. The rise in painkiller abuse and addiction has led to an increased need for prescription drug rehab centers around the country.
Though supply is not yet meeting demand, there is hope out there for you or your loved one if you are concerned about your painkiller use. Greater Boston Addiction Centers has a prescription drug addiction treatment program specifically for those who abuse or are addicted to prescription painkillers. To learn more about signs of addiction, treatment options, and how to get help, reach out today. Call 877.920.6583 or use our online form.
Understanding Prescription Drug Abuse
Use of any prescription drug is considered abuse if it is taken by someone other than the person for whom it is prescribed or is taken by the correct person but not as indicated.
Many people begin taking painkillers for legitimate reasons. They suffer from chronic pain or have an acute situation such as surgery or injury. Their doctor selects a drug that will manage the pain and prescribes it. Somewhere along the way, use turns to abuse. Why?
- If the source of the pain goes away – for example, a surgical patient recovers fully from surgery – at some point in that process, feeling good because pain is relieved transitions to simply feeling good. Soon, the brain’s receptors become dependent on artificially introduced neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. All pleasure and well-being must be sourced through a drug, as the body has slowed its production. The patient is now abusing painkillers.
- If the body becomes dependent on the drug, despite the continued presence of pain, and requires more of it to alleviate symptoms, then the prescribed amount will no longer suffice. Greater quantities of the drug must be taken, leading to patients not using the drug as prescribed, running out too soon, and getting trapped in a cycle of drug-seeking and abuse.
- Some people are never pain patients and simply acquire prescription painkillers to get high and mute mental health symptoms, or for other reasons. This qualifies as abuse right from the get-go.
However the abuse starts, addiction can easily follow. Addiction is a disease with a strong genetic component, defined as chronic, and managed best with professional help and strong support. If you are concerned that you are abusing or addicted to prescription painkillers, please reach out for help.
5 Signs of Painkiller Abuse
Everyone’s physical and genetic blueprints are different, and drug addiction and abuse can present with a range of physical symptoms, including cardiovascular issues, seizures, nausea/vomiting, and depressed breathing. But the side effects of painkiller abuse are not just physical.
Whether you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, looking for the following five behavioral and psychological signs of painkiller abuse is the first step in determining if you need to intervene or seek help.
Someone addicted to a painkiller will eventually be unable to acquire it through legitimate means. Addiction cannot be “unchosen,” so the only way to continue feeding the addiction is to use extreme methods. Stealing drugs from friends and family or money to purchase illegally sold street drugs is common. If you or someone you know has resorted to theft to acquire painkillers, reach out for help.
2. Doctor Shopping or Juggling
Often, in an attempt to game the prescription system, painkiller abusers will make appointments with numerous doctors to acquire prescriptions that they attempt to fill at multiple unconnected pharmacies. It is not uncommon for people dependent on the drug to see no ethical problem with this approach. In their minds, they need this drug, and however they get it is legitimate. They will take any hesitation or concern on the part of a physician personally as unjustified and unfair.
3. Breakdown and Loss of Interpersonal Relationships
Drug addiction leads tragically to complete social isolation for many people. Maintaining the level of drug use necessary to avoid withdrawal becomes all-consuming as psychological impediments make the connection to others increasingly difficult.
4. Professional Ruin
The all-consuming focus on drug acquisition and use interfere greatly with the abuser’s ability to meet responsibilities. Someone in the throes of an addiction to painkillers will show up late to work, be inexplicably absent, fail to perform job duties, and derail professional relationships. Probation, censure, and even job loss are often the result of painkiller abuse.
5. The Consequences of Risk
People who are dependent on painkillers must take increasing risks to maintain their addiction. The fall-out of such risky behaviors can range from unwanted pregnancy to incarceration. You know yourself best. Or, if your concern is for someone else, ask yourself: is this person behaving out of character? Chances are, if you are reading this, the answer is yes. It may be time to take the next step in help-seeking.
Break Painkiller Addiction at Greater Boston Addiction Centers
That next step can be as simple as picking up the phone to call 877.920.6583 or filling out our online form. Our prescription drug addiction treatment program is ideally equipped to help you or someone you love begin recovery. Our space is as healing as our many evidence-based therapies, and our staff is both professional and kind, with the shared goal of helping those who suffer from the disease of addiction reclaim their lives.
If you are trying to cope with any of the side effects of painkiller abuse, you don’t have to do this alone. We can help.