The Substance Abuse and Medical Health Services Administration reports that over 4.3 million people used painkillers for nonmedical uses in 2014. Were you or someone you know one of them?
The opioid epidemic is regularly in the news and it is no wonder why. 130 people die every day by overdosing on opioids, according to the Center for Disease Control.
All opioids, natural or synthetic, are made or derived from opium. All opioids release endorphins in people’s brains which causes a sense of euphoria and well being. Often it is the release of these endorphins that keep people coming back for more, long after their need for pain medication has passed.
If you or someone you love is taking pain medication, here is what you need to know.
Which Painkillers are the Most Addictive
All types of prescription and illicit painkillers have the potential to become addictive since they all provide a sense of euphoria. But prescription painkillers are less so when taken as prescribed and only used for a short period of time. Opioids are most often prescribed after having surgery or for chronic pain and using them in this way is generally considered safe.
The opioids accounting for the largest percentage of people with opioid use disorder are Fentanyl, oxycodone (OxyContin), meperidine (Demerol), hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), Percocet, Morphine, and Codeine.
How Do People Get Addicted to Painkillers
Most people start off taking pain killers that are prescribed by a doctor after surgery or for other chronic pain. The trouble is that when painkillers are taken over time, they become less effective and people build up a tolerance for them.
So to get the same sense of euphoria or pain relief, people have to take more of the opioid to get the same result. The result is often people becoming addicted or dependent on the drug.
Signs of Addiction
People who are addicted to painkillers may show a wide range of signs. They may begin taking the medication more often than prescribed or begin to feel paranoid about their supply. Look for changes in mood and lack of general hygiene.
They may also change their circle of friends or withdraw from family and friends. They can also lose interest in things they used to enjoy, have trouble keeping a job, and be less reliable.
Treatment for addiction to painkillers begins with detoxification (detox). Detox can have many unpleasant side effects, especially for people who have been using opioids for an extended period of time. This can include depression, elevated blood pressure, and intestinal problems, among others.
Drug detox from opioids usually takes up to seven days. People can opt to detox in a hospital or detox center or on an outpatient basis. Inpatient detox is considered the safer method of detox since detox symptoms can be severe. Inpatient allows for ongoing monitoring and supervision.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice When Using Addictive Painkillers
There are times when taking medications such as these addictive painkillers is necessary to deal with severe short-term pain and long-term chronic pain. If you are prescribed an opioid for pain, follow your doctor’s advice and let them know as soon as possible if you begin to feel like the medication is no longer working for you.
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