The sad thing about pain killer addiction is that often the person newly addicted to their medicine didn’t take it with any ill intentions. Dependency on prescription painkillers almost always starts with a common injury, surgery or condition: maybe a car accident, a slip and fall, or severe arthritis. This person isn’t trying to get high. They aren’t using their pills as a quick fix to solving any emotional disorders or stress. They are simply just trying to ease their physical pain, a legitimate medical reason for being prescribed the medication in the first place.
Unfortunately, weeks after the injury has healed, this same person, who may have never touched or abused an illegal substance in their life, finds themselves still taking their opioid painkiller. Maybe even in a higher dose than they had started with and now the drug that was supposed to be helping them is hurting them. They have found themselves addicted and what was once just the pain from their injury has now been replaced by the pain of withdrawal when the medicine is taken away.
Prescription drug addiction is of course not their fault. Non-Drug pain management services are simply not as accessible as they should be. And in our quick to medicate culture, painkillers are sadly a Physician’s easy solution for pain management rather than referring patients to non-drug pain clinics. Also, those who take painkillers to reduce pain caused by an injury can begin to realize that their prescribed medicine can also distance them from any emotional pain they may have been feeling. While it may not have been the original intention for the prescription drug, someone suffering feelings of stress or sadness may find that dealing with such becomes a lot easier once they are on the painkiller. It is only masking these emotional conditions and unfortunately, over time and without the pills, someone suffering from emotional pain can begin to feel even worse than they did before they started their medication. And now the original problem is still there, but it’s been compounded by an addictionto their painkiller.
What’s even scarier than the prescription drug addiction number sky rocketing in the last several years, is that prescription opiates, painkillers that include oxycodone, oxymorphone and hydrocodone, have now become the largest cause of fatal overdoses in the United States, replacing overdoses due to illegal narcotics such as heroin or cocaine. According to Leonard Paulozzi of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drugs cause most of the more than 26,000 fatal overdoses each year. The number of overdose deaths from opioid painkillers has more than tripled from 1999 to 2006.
Treating prescription drug addiction in a drug and alcohol rehab center is highly recommended. Because addiction to these drugs is so difficult to work through, detoxification is a must and should without a doubt be done in an inpatient rehab center. In addition to detoxification, opiate addiction in rehab can also be treated by behavioral therapy or through medications. The latter may seem counter productive, but these pharmacological treatments oppose the effects of the drug on the brain and behavior, and can be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms and help overcome drug cravings. Although a behavioral approach such as counseling or group therapy may be effective for treating drug addiction, research shows that, at least in the case of opioid addiction, a combination of both is the most effective in rehab.
If you fear you may have developed an addiction to your pain medication, it is in your best interest to seek immediate help and contact a drug rehab facility as soon as possible in order to effectively overcome your addiction.