One of the three main categories of medications that present a significant risk of abuse is prescription opioids. Physicians are prescribing and distributing opioids at dramatically increased rates in recent years. This is drastically increasing the incidence of painkiller addiction in the United States. Opioid painkillers produce a short-lived euphoric feeling. Long-term use of these drugs can lead to physical dependence. When a person continues taking drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms, they are just one step away from a painkiller addiction. If you or someone you love are struggling with painkiller addiction, contact the addiction recovery counselors at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services.
How to Spot a Prescription Painkiller Addiction
Doctors frequently prescribe opioid painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone to individuals experiencing chronic pain, as a more powerful alternative to over-the-counter pain relievers. These medications are highly addictive, and can easily lead to an opioid addiction. Even individuals who have never abused drugs or become dependent on painkillers in the past can easily develop an addiction. Unfortunately, symptoms of an opioid addiction can be difficult to spot. Some users may carry on with their everyday tasks as if everything is fine, and not exhibit any obvious signs. That being said, there are some warning signs to look out for that may signal a painkiller addiction, including the following:
- Unexplained weight loss
- A change in sleep habits
- A lack of hygiene
- Frequent flu-like symptoms
- Decreased sex drive
- Changes in energy level or exercise habits
- Loss of relationships
- Changes in work habits
As with other types of addiction, the longer a person is struggling with an addiction to painkillers like oxycodone or hydrocodone, the more signs and symptoms they are likely to exhibit. If you recognize one or more of these red flags in a friend, family member or co-worker, it’s possible the issue may be a painkiller addiction.
Risk of Opioid Overdose
The most important reason to identify and address a painkiller addiction as early as possible is to avoid an overdose. An overdose occurs when a person takes more than the amount of medication the prescription is for, at once or over time. When a doctor prescribes an opioid painkiller to relieve chronic pain, a person may take a higher amount of the medication. They may take it more frequently than the instructions require. If they develop a tolerance, they will require more of the medication to achieve the same pain-relieving effects. This is the hallmark of a painkiller addiction and can lead to the abuse of other drugs, like heroin. This can happen among individuals who don’t necessarily fit the description of what you might consider a “typical” addict.
The Addiction Recovery Experts at BRS Rehab Can Help
Opioid addiction can happen to anyone, even someone with no history of drug abuse. As with any type of addiction, the consequences of a painkiller addiction can be devastating, or even fatal. According to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 26.4 million and 36 million people around the world abuse opioids like morphine, heroin and prescription painkillers. There are an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance abuse disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. If someone you love is exhibiting warning signs of a painkiller addiction, don’t hesitate to get them the help they need. Call Behavioral Rehabilitation Services to learn about the available treatment options for an addiction to painkillers.