Painkillers are quickly becoming one of the most popular drugs for people to abuse. The reason has to do with advances in medical technology.
In recent years, there have been great advances in the development of highly effective painkillers that can successfully block the neuro receptors that report pain to the brain. These painkillers – especially those such as Vicodin and Oxycontin – are now widely prescribed for all sorts of common pains, such as muscle pain, joint pain, bone fractures and many others.
The problem is that a lot of doctors will prescribe these powerful painkillers to just about anybody who reports the slightest pain. And they work very, very well: The patient can often completely mask their pain through these advanced drugs.
In effect, these painkillers work almost too well. Many people will continue to take them long after they genuinely need them. And like many other drugs, there is a high risk of physical and psychological addiction.
A Different Type of Addiction
Doctors today have a lot of options for easing their patients’ pain. A few decades ago, the most popular were opioids, which are also known as opiates or narcotics. These are drugs that are made from the powerful poppy plant and include such narcotics as morphine, codeine and heroin, which is a synthetic modification of morphine.
When people use any type of drug to control real pain, the likelihood of becoming addicted is relatively low. But opioids provide an intoxicating high when injected or when taken by mouth in pill form in high does. They are widely used to relieve anxiety. So narcotics abuse of opioids is one of the most common addictions.
Definitions of Drug Use
Drug abuse is defined as the deliberate use of a medication that goes beyond its intended purpose. Among people who abuse opiates, the intention is usually to get high or relieve anxiety.
Drug dependency is when body develops a chemical need for a drug. People with a drug dependency usually need to take higher and higher doses just to get the same effect. And when they stop taking the drug, the withdrawal symptoms can be severe and, in some case, fatal.
Drug addiction is when somebody has both a physical dependency and a psychological addiction to a drug. It can manifest itself through compulsive behavior to get the drug, having an intense and insatiable craving for the drug, and the continued use of the drug despite its negative effects on their career, home life, relationships, their health, and other aspects of their life.
Symptoms of Painkiller Abuse
When somebody is abusing prescription painkillers, they will often feel no pain and instead will experience a sense of euphoria, or a high. In some instances, they may have shallow or slow breathing, pinpoint pupils, slurred speech, confusion or poor judgement, and other physical symptoms.
Signs of addiction include the inability to stop using the drug even though the person wants to. Other physical signs include constipation, nausea and vomiting, and itchy or splotchy skin.
Withdrawal from Painkillers
Physical withdrawal from painkillers is known to be one of the worst types of withdrawal. That’s because modern medicines are very effective at controlling the body on a cellular level. Removing these drugs from the body is extremely difficult and can cause violent withdrawal symptoms.
These symptoms can include extreme anxiety and agitation, irritability, rapid breathing, muscle aches, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, uncontrollable sweating, uncontrollable shaking or trembling, and rapid breathing.
Coming off painkillers may not be life-threatening, but it’s often very unpleasant and nearly unbearable for many people. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms and how long they last are generally directly related to the length and severity of the drug use. The longer you have been taking painkillers, the harder it will be to get off them.
Weaning Off of the Drug
With painkiller addition, it’s often possible to reduce the dosage over time as a means of reducing the effects of withdrawal.
Over the course of a few weeks or months, the dosage can slowly be lowered until the person is using little or no drugs at all. In this course of treatment, a placebo is sometimes used during the final stages in order to help the person overcome the psychological addiction to the narcotic.
Medical Uses of Narcotics
Today’s physician have a wide variety of highly effective drugs to choose from when treating their patients pain.
Opioids that are used for short-term medical conditions – such as post-surgical for legitimate injuries such as a fracture or sprain – don’t typically require weaning. In these instances, halting the drug after a brief period generally won’t cause withdrawal symptoms to occur.
Anyone struggling with an addiction to painkillers should seek professional medical advice rather than trying to resolve the problem on their own.
Author Bio – John Sanders writes on behalf of The Cabin Singapore, the best choice for drug rehab in Singapore.