Chronic pain is a common experience among US adults. Nearly one in three American adults is affected by chronic pain. Many people who struggle with this turn to prescription painkillers to ease their symptoms. Unfortunately, these drugs, many of them opioids, are also addictive. Beyond relieving pain, they also target the brain’s pleasure center. Most people who stick to the recommended prescription usage need not worry about becoming addicted for short-term relief. However, over time, an individual may become tolerant, leading them to misuse their prescription or seek stronger illicit drugs like heroin to produce the same euphoric feeling. Understanding when painkiller use turns into addiction means staying tuned in to common warning signs.
Signs of Addictive Painkiller Use
Prescription painkiller addictions do not set in overnight. Often, a series of steps and moments lead to an addiction. Paying attention to warning signs when they first appear can ensure you get treatment in a timely fashion or even avoid needing treatment altogether. Warning signs to look for are detailed below.
Painkillers Dominate Your Thoughts
How much brain space painkiller use takes up can be a good indicator of whether or not a problem has set in. Are you counting down the hours until your next dose? Alternatively, do you experience anxiety about whether your supply will last until the next refill? Answering yes to either question means an unhealthy relationship to painkiller use is present, and it is likely that dependence has developed.
You Take Higher Doses Than Your Prescription Says
This may look like taking more than the prescribed dose or taking the correct amount of medication too frequently. Mixing up the use or dosage in ways that do not align with the prescription instructions is a clear path to addictive painkiller use. This can quickly start by thinking you need a higher or different dose than you were prescribed based on your level of pain. If that is true, it is always best to consult with your doctor to see if they agree before you stop using the medication.
Doctor shopping is when you visit multiple doctors to get the same prescription. This action is often a sign of addictive painkiller use and is not appropriate behavior for someone that has a healthy relationship with their medication use. Certainly, if a doctor is not providing you with high-quality service and care, you should feel empowered to seek care elsewhere. However, switching doctors is not an opportunity to disguise the medications you take to boost your supply or get a second prescription.
You Seek Painkillers Outside of Medical Channels
Another inappropriate example of addictive painkiller use is seeking painkillers from non-medical sources or in secret. This could look like buying drugs online or stealing them from a friend or relative who shares the same or a similar prescription.
Seek Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment at The Willows at Red Oak Recovery®
If you have identified one or more of the previously described warning signs in yourself or a loved one, seeking prescription drug addiction treatment is the best next step. The good news is that you can overcome prescription drug addiction. Treatment for a painkiller addiction involves:
- Support groups
Painkiller addiction always begins with detox. Unlike many other addictions, prescription drug addiction treatment generally uses medications to ease the detox and withdrawal period. Medications like buprenorphine can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cut down on cravings.
Therapy may be available in individual, group, or family settings. The exact type will be determined based on an individual’s need. The focus is on determining the root causes of addiction and addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders. Finally, support groups and services aid people in navigating life stressors, developing coping skills, and repairing damaged relationships.
If you’re battling prescription drug addiction, we can help. Begin the process of beating your addictive painkiller use today by calling The Willows at Red Oak Recovery® at 855.773.0614.