Information on Painkiller Addiction
Painkiller addictions—addictions to prescription opioids—affect millions of people in the United States every year. They may start innocently enough with a prescription for Vicodin or Percocet or Codeine, or even something especially powerful like oxycontin in order to control pain following a minor injury.
A person with no history of addiction can begin to abuse the medication until a depedence develops and an addiction soon begins to consume their lives.
"But my doctor gave it to me"
Too often, people dismiss the signs and symptoms of a painkiller addiction because the addict is receiving the medication from a doctor and we all assume that if a doctor is writing a prescription to a patient then everything must be on the up-and-up because that person is a doctor and we put a lot of trust and faith in doctors.
What people may not know is that many doctors don't pay very close attention to how frequently or for how long they may be refilling a patient's pain medication. Furthermore, they may not realize just how many doctors a person is seeing at any one time. Often, as patients develop a dependence on painkillers, they begin to go to greater and greater lengths to obtain the pills. Going from doctor to doctor is known as doctor-shopping. They may also be undertaking risky behavior to obtain the pills—which could take the form of going to dangerous areas and buying the pills off a street dealer. People that would otherwise never put themselves in these kinds of dangerous situations will do just that in order to find more painkillers. And it isn't just about wanting more painkillers.
Withdrawal symptoms hit hard and fast
Often, obtaining painkillers is not about the narcotic effect they provide, but about avoiding the horribly painful withdrawal symptoms that can begin just hours after taking one's final dose of pills. Withdrawal symptoms are so hideous that patients who desire to try and quit their addiction cannot do so because the withdrawals—which include sensations of crawling skin, stomach pains, diarreah, sweating, fevers, chills, high anxiety, nausea and vomiting, runny nose, watery eyes, and insomnia, for starters—are unbearable.
Painkiller addictions also endanger a person by potentially doing damage to some of their internal organs, and there is always the threat of accidental overdose.
Patients and loved ones should be aware of the ability of drug abuse treatment programs to get a painkiller addict through the withdrawal symptoms with a minimum amount of unpleasantness using non-addictive medications, but the painkiller addict must want to overcome their addiction.
While opioid addiction is not curable in the traditional understanding of a curable disease, it is a treatable and a manageable disease.