Painkillers addiction is a worldwide epidemic that affects people in all age ranges. Nearly two million people ages 12 and older abused or were addicted to pain-relieving medications in 2007. That number has only risen in more recent years. As of 2011, 80% of all the painkillers used worldwide were used by Americans.
Legal painkillers versus illegal painkillers
Despite the fact that these are often legitimate medications that are prescribed by medical professionals, these drugs are not always obtained by legal means. There is also a large black market that centers around painkillers. Whether people obtain them legally or illegally, these drugs can cause serious problems in a person’s life.
What are painkillers?
Painkillers are complicated drugs because they are designed to help with legitimate pain symptoms, but they have high addiction potential. Many prescription pain-relieving medications are opiate-based, which makes them especially addictive. People who need help managing pain have to weigh their need to alleviate their pain symptoms against the addiction potential associated with those drugs.
Are painkillers addictive?
Painkillers have high addiction potential. Because there are a large number of drugs that are designed to address issues associated with pain management, they can vary in their potential for addiction. All painkillers do have addiction potential, however, and the longer a person takes these drugs, the greater the likelihood that addiction will result from ongoing use.
How addictive are they?
Painkillers are highly addictive. This is why there is such a huge demand for these drugs. Some people become addicted to these drugs during a normal course of treatment for pain. Others seek these drugs to get high even when there is no actual pain they need to treat. Many doctors over-prescribe these drugs. Because large quantities are available, many of these substances end up in the hands of people who were not prescribed those drugs. People who use any type of drug recreationally have an extremely high risk of becoming addicted.
How long does it take to get addicted?
How long it takes to become addicted to painkillers depends on the drug and on the individual. Many people begin taking these drugs to treat or manage legitimate symptoms associated with extreme pain, but they sometimes continue taking them long after the pain is no longer a problem. Some may also take additional doses after their pain has subsided. Others may begin taking these drugs for recreational purposes without ever having physical pain that requires treatment.
Who gets addicted to painkillers?
Painkiller addiction can happen to anyone who uses these medications. Signs of addiction include taking increasingly higher doses without consulting a doctor, using painkillers without a prescription, hiding the use of the medications from family and friends, lying about the amounts being taken, and seeking multiple prescriptions from different doctors for the same medication. These can be warning signs indicating addiction-based behaviors, but not all addicts will exhibit all of these signs.
Harmful effects of painkillers
There are several different health effects associated with the use of painkilling medications. Some of these effects are physical, and some are mental. Over time, these drugs can leave a person suffering from serious physical health consequences as a result of ongoing use of these medications. They can also damage a person’s mental health and ruin their social relationships.
Painkillers damage the body
Long-term use of painkillers can wreak havoc on various parts of the body. Chronic use of these medications can eventually lead to needing liver transplants and kidney transplants. Regardless of whether they are used to treat actual pain symptoms or not, these drugs can do serious damage to physical health. These drugs affect the following parts of the body:
Painkillers hurt mental health
In addition to harming the body, painkillers can also hurt a person’s mental health. Neurotransmitters are released into the body from using these types of drugs. The body then begins to crave this release of these chemicals. The chemicals are produced by the body naturally, but when these “feel good chemicals” are triggered by drug use, addiction is often a result. The neurotransmitters most often released while taking painkillers that play large roles in addiction are endorphins and dopamine.
Painkillers can damage relationships
Families have been destroyed and professional lives have been ruined because of the use of painkillers. When addiction-based behaviors such as lying and hiding drug use begin to surface, these can severely damage social relationships. There is a loss of trust associated with these events that take work to rebuild. Seeking treatment can help release a person from the trap of addiction, and teach them healthy ways to rebuild those relationships. Over time, they may be able to regain the trust of their loved ones.
Seek inpatient treatment
Overcoming an addiction to painkillers requires help from people who understand how addiction works. Stopping use through willpower is not possible for what is an actual physical addiction. Trying to do so can even be dangerous. Getting help from professionals who understand the causes of addiction and the best ways to treat it can lead to successful outcomes. Learning healthier ways of thinking and other alternatives for controlling and managing pain can also help in overcoming addiction.
The Benefits of inpatient treatment
Addiction is never easy to overcome, and painkiller addiction presents a special set of challenges. Many people who are dealing with this problem do have legitimate pain issues that need to be managed using other means. Inpatient programs can also help explore other ways of coping. Inpatient treatments greatly increase one’s chances of successfully overcoming addiction.
Getting treatment for addiction is important for a healthy outcome. While overcoming addiction is one of the hardest things a person can do, it is an important step toward returning to a normal life. Especially with opiate-based painkillers, there can be serious physical symptoms associated with withdrawal, so having medical supervision is extremely important.
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