Addicted to Painkillers?

Are you addicted to painkillers? More than 4.7 million Americans are dependent on prescription painkillers, which accounts for about 2 percent of the U.S. adult population. Determining if you are addicted to painkillers is important toward assisting in recovery.


The numbers of those who are addicted to painkillers are increasing throughout the United States and throughout the world. Opiate, or pain killer medications like Vicodin, OxyContin, Norco and Hydrocodone are some of the most common types of medications to be prescribed by doctors to help treat pain. However, those taking these types of painkillers run the risk of becoming physically dependent upon the drug if the painkiller is not taking correctly or as prescribed.

Are you addicted to painkillers? Here are some signs of painkiller addiction:

  1. Increase in usage
  2. Personality changes
  3. Socially withdrawn
  4. Continuing medication use beyond length of prescription
  5. Change in appearance and habits
  6. Failure to be responsible
  7. Forgetfulness and blacking out
  8. Denial and defensive behaviors

If you are someone you know is addicted to painkillers, you or they might be exhibiting some or all of the behaviors mentioned above. For those who increase the recommended dosage or extend the use beyond what is prescribed or after the condition has improved, there is a good chance that you might be addicted to painkillers. This action demonstrates that you are no longer taking the medication to treat the pain it was originally prescribed to help. You are now addicted to painkillers and feel the need or desire to take them as a way to cope with your daily life.  Often times, those who greatly abuse painkillers, may experience symptoms of forgetfulness or changes in behavior. They may forget to show up to work or fulfill other responsibilities. Those in denial about their addiction, or those who refuse to stop taking the medications are likely addicted to pain killers. 

Treatment and recovery for those who are addicted to painkillers:

There are several ways those who are addicted to painkillers can receive treatment. First, just like with any addiction, they must recognize they have a problem and are addicted to painkillers. Those who suddenly discontinue prescription drug use after being addicted or heavily dependent will likely experience symptoms of withdrawal that can last up to two to three weeks including:

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Eye tearing
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Twitching and tremors
  • Back and bone pain
  • Intense cravings for the drug

Treatment methods:

  • Detoxification of the painkillers is typically the first step in the treatment process. Sometimes other medications like clonidine, which helps block the sympathetic overdrive that makes the withdrawal symptoms shorter, are prescribed to help those who are addicted to painkillers cope during the detoxification process.
  • However, because detoxification can be such a lengthy and severe process, many of those addicted to painkillers, instead choose to gradually quit the use of painkillers. 
  • Support groups or therapy are often positive tools in helping those who are addicted to painkillers get over their addiction. 

Sources: http://www.spine-health.com, http://speedendurance.com


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