Back in 2012, close to 50 million Americans were struggling with severe or chronic pain. That same year, there were more than 250 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers in the United States. There’s no doubt pain pill addiction is a living and growing problem in the nation. However, noticing the signs of addiction in yourself or someone you know can be life-saving and prevent adverse consequences in the future.
Table of Contents
Why Pain Pills Cause Addiction
Prescription pain medications include popular pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and others. These types of drugs bind to our brain’s opioid receptors to produce euphoric effects and relieve pain. Unfortunately, this euphoric effect is the primary reason most people develop a physical and psychological dependence on pain pills, which eventually moves to become an addiction.
Even when people follow doctor’s orders on how to take these prescriptions, over time. Their bodies develop a physical dependency, leading to users ramping up their doses or combining other substances to enhance their effects.
Signs of Pain Pill Addiction
Luckily, recognizing the signs of pain pill addiction isn’t difficult. Most people, whether they like it or not, will show symptoms of addiction and abuse. The “three C’s” are the best way to notice the various signs and symptoms that stem far away from the physical symptoms of abuse.
Loss of Control
One of the first signs is the loss of control over their prescription painkillers. Users might start going to doctor shopping and traveling long distances to refill prescriptions are other common signs of pain pill addiction. Doctor shopping is when one person has multiple doctors prescribing pain medication.
Those trying to hide their addiction will start reporting the loss or stolen prescriptions, running out of prescription earlier, and show withdrawal symptoms. Pinning of the pupils, weight changes, red eyes, frequent scratching, and irritability are common symptoms.
Another telling sign is the intense cravings. Those struggling continue to request more and more opioid prescriptions. They believe their pain is getting worse and might need higher doses to help, even though their condition is improving. They’ll often be dismissive of non-opioid treatments to help their chronic pain.
Those with a severe pain pill addiction will crave the drugs so badly they’d turn to the street markets. Unfortunately, most prescription medications find their way to the streets. Other illicit pain relievers are also easily available on the streets and those struggling with addiction might turn to these routes to satisfy their addiction.
Use Despite Negative Consequences
Perhaps the most telling sign of addiction is the continuous use despite consequences. While someone with an opioid use disorder might try to stop at one point or another, those with addiction won’t. People who struggle with addiction are physically and psychologically unable to stop taking the substances. Even when they try, they might struggle with life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that could result in a fatal overdose.
People with addiction problems might struggle with productivity issues at work and school, for example. Most people turn to irrational behaviors that negatively affect their family and friend relationships. Sometimes, to satisfy their addiction they’ll partake in illegal or reckless behaviors that could potentially lead to incarceration. An addict will continue to use despite all of these consequences.
The Problem with Addictive Behavior
While the chemical makeup of opioids and pain pills might lead to addiction, some people have a higher risk of substance abuse. Those who struggle with any sort of addictive behavior should stay away from prescription medication or drugs that have the potential for abuse. When someone with addictive behavior starts taking pain pills or other prescription medications, it’s as if the worst of two worlds combine.
First, these medications rewire the brain and bind to opiate receptors that produce this euphoric feeling. Physically, our bodies will crave this feeling and associate the surge of dopamine with something good, which is why we develop a tolerance and dependence for these substances. Eventually, the way we feel under the effect of these substances trigger psychological symptoms of relaxation and overall well-being, which lead to the development of emotional addiction.
In the end, sadly people are walking into a hamster wheel of dependence, tolerance, and addiction that can be challenging to stop.
Treatment Options for Addiction
Most people need to seek help from a drug rehab facility to find the right treatment. Depending on the severity of their addiction, a specialist might recommend either an inpatient or outpatient setting. Other modalities will include individual counseling and support groups to encourage recovery.
Medical Detox: A clinically supervised detox process held in addiction treatment centers ensures the patient’s safety and makes the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible.
Inpatient Programs: These offer a temptation-free environment that’s designed to help people in recovery. In this case, people check into a living drug rehab facility, and they attend meetings and therapy sessions while remaining in a supervised environment.
Outpatient Programs: For those with mild benzo addiction, an outpatient rehab program might be an option. In this case, they have a more flexible program that allows them to maintain their daily schedule and responsibilities like attending school, work, or caring for their family.
Medication-Assisted Programs: While rare, long-time benzodiazepine addicts might experience the worse withdrawal symptoms. To prevent these symptoms from harming them physically and psychologically, a physician might recommend specific prescription medications to help through the withdrawal process under a medically supervised program.
Individual Therapy: Beyond the detox process, it’s paramount to tackle the addiction. Through individual therapy, people can understand what drives addictive behavior and see if there’s an underlying cause of their addiction.
Group Therapy: Building a healthy and sober support team is a critical element of addiction recovery. By attending group meetings or 12-step programs, individuals can continue their sober life and continue to learn relapse prevention techniques, even months after detox.
Aftercare Programs: Addiction isn’t one thing people can shove under the rug. The remnants of addiction often stay with them for the rest of their life. To help users find happiness and purpose in their lives, aftercare programs offer relapse prevention classes, life skills, and other essential tools for a successful life after treatment.
Seek Substance Abuse Treatment
If you or someone you know is struggling with long-term prescription drug abuse don’t wait any longer. Countless treatment options can help them conquer their addiction and manage any withdrawal symptoms. Remember, quitting potent drugs alone can be life-threatening and produce uncomfortable side effects. It’s essential to have the support and supervision of drug addiction specialists by your side.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in offering customized drug addiction treatment plans. We look at each program on a case-by-case basis to cater to whatever your needs are to get better and walk towards recovery. From detoxification programs to group meetings and more, everyone in our team is committed to helping you win the battle of addiction.