Painkiller Addiction is a potentially life-threatening condition that can detrimentally affect the health and well-being of the person who experiences it. Painkillers are narcotic opioid drugs that can be found in either prescription form (for example, OxyContin) and illicitly (heroin or fentanyl) on the black market. In any case, all types of opiates and opioids have a high potential for misuse, dependency, and addiction.
Painkillers can be habit-forming because they produce a surge of “feel good” chemicals that collect in the brain’s reward center. Once administered, they take control of dopamine and serotonin transmitters in the brain.
Painkillers also have properties that can result in central nervous system (CNS) depression. As such, they lessen neurological activity in the brain and body and induce pleasurable feelings such as pain reduction and euphoria. Painkiller abuse, however, can and does result in life-threatening complications such as respiratory distress and coma.
Painkiller addiction can lead to a wide variety of negative consequences, including poor or failing health, mental health conditions, criminal activity, legal and financial problems, and damaged or broken relationships with family and friends.
Over time, the consumption of painkillers can result in dependency, a condition in which the brain has become accustomed to a drug’s presence and can no longer function well without it. When a person becomes dependent on a substance, they start to experience drug cravings and suffer from unpleasant withdrawal effects when they attempt to cut back or quit altogether.
Symptoms of painkiller withdrawal may include the following:
Tolerance is a condition that develops when a person’s body has become less sensitive to a substance and the response is thereby reduced. When this happens, the user has little choice but to increase drug abuse regarding dose, frequency, or potency, or method of administration (e.g. taking a pill versus injection.)
When these people boost their substance abuse patterns, they also markedly heighten the risk of severe side effects, overdose, and death.
Taking high amounts of painkillers, especially in combination with other drugs or alcohol can result in life-threatening complications.
Symptoms of an opioid overdose may include:
If you or a loved one are experiencing the above symptoms, please call 911 immediately.
Many painkillers are prescribed legally by physicians and include the following:
Any painkiller can be considered illicit if the person takes it knowingly without a prescription. Other types of common illegal painkillers include heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, U-47700, and other synthetic opioids.
Treatment for opiate and opioid painkiller addiction usually begins with a medically-assisted detox. During this process, patients are monitored around-the-clock for several days while their body rids itself of drugs and alcohol. Medical staff note vital signs and administer medication to treat withdrawal symptoms.
After detox is complete, patients are urged to participate in a 30-60 treatment program which includes either an inpatient or outpatient treatment format or a combination of both. Both tracks include group and individual therapy and counseling, group support meetings, and holistic approaches such as art and music therapy.
Outpatients can choose to live in a private residence or a local sober living environment while they transition their normal lives outside of the center. After formal treatment has completed, patients can participate in alumni activities and continue their recovery journey under the recommendation of an individualized aftercare plan.
If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.