It can be very emotionally and physically draining to be in constant pain, all day every day. Our addiction centers are filled with those who were prescribed painkillers only to end up abusing them in hopes of escaping that pain. What can patient and practitioners do in order to avoid this pass?
First of all, it is a good idea to be aware of which painkillers most often lead to dependence and addiction.
COMMONLY ABUSED PAIN MEDICINES:
The most commonly abused classes of drugs are stimulants, depressants and opiods.
Stimulants, otherwise known as ‘stims’ or ‘uppers’, can make people feel more alert and energetic. Caffeine is an example of a legal stimulant. Adderall is another example that is often abused by those for whom it was not prescribed.
Depressants are also known as tranquilizers, or sometimes CNS depressants. These include barbituates and benzodiazepines, which are some of the most abused drugs on the planet. These drugs are abused because of their relaxing effects. CNS depressants include valium and Xanax.
Opioids are like stronger depressants in many ways, producing a euphoric effect and haivng a high incidence of addiction. They are typically only used in a medical setting if the pain a patient is experiencing is very severe. Opiods include morphine, methodone, and oxycodone.
HOW DOES ADDICTION START?:
Patients typically start off taking the pill as their doctor prescribes. However, without vigilant self-monitoring, patients may instead take another pill as soon as their pain returns. Pain addiction is complicated by the fact that not every pill will work in the same way in every person. Some may have little to no issue weaning off of a pain medication, even after prolonged use. Others may have difficulty stopping after several doses. This is not necessarily a matter of willpower or virtue, but genetic propensity coupled with the intensity of the pain that the patient is experiencing at the time.
Some patients may share their pills with others who state that they are in pain, or even sell their pills if they find the pain manageable without them. They may not realize that each pill has been prescribed and dosed for their particular condition and weight, and that allowing another person to take a pill that has been prescribed to them could result in that person’s hospitalization or even death.
An addiction to prescription drugs is no safer than any other addiction. Just because the drug initially came from a physician does not make it better or more benign than the abuse of a street drug.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I HAVE BECOME ADDICTED?
There are options available to those who have become addicted to painkillers and wish to stop. Addiction centers around the world exist, and are easy to locate. They can help wean you off of the medications you once used for pain management and, in some cases, employ drugs that will help with the symptoms of withdrawal.
You might be addicted to your pain medication if:
- You have found yourself accidentally running out of your pain medication earlier than the doctor said you should.
- You find yourself counting down to the next dose, regardless of your pain levels
- You have started interpreting your need for the drug as ‘pain’. This takes some self-awareness and self-monitoring. Are you actually waiting for pain relief, or relief from the symptoms of withdrawal?
- You find yourself looking for a new doctor every time you run out of your pain pills, because you are aware that your previous doctor will not prescribe more.
There is help and hope out there! Do look up information on addiction centers in your area if you fear this may apply to you!