Prescription painkillers can be very helpful. They get you through the day when you’ve got that nasty headache or after an unpleasant injury or operation, but they can be addictive. Most prescription painkillers are related to opium or heroin, and they can be extremely addictive if taken for a prolonged period. Addiction is very insidious, and you may not realize that you are becoming addicted to your painkillers. What warning signs should you be aware of?
You’re showing worrying signs of loss of control
You don’t feel comfortable unless you’ve got a supply of pain medication. You carry it with you and chances are you’ll use it. If prescription painkillers are the culprit, your doctor may have warned you that you need to discontinue them, so you go to a new doctor instead. When he becomes reluctant to prescribe, you’ll move on again. Some patients may visit several doctors in a short space of time so that they have multiple prescriptions for their painkillers.
As you become more accustomed to your pain killer, it becomes less effective, and to counteract the effects of habituation and increased tolerance, an addict may feel the need to use a higher dose or more frequent doses than those recommended by the doctor. As it becomes more difficult to get your pain medication, you may turn to the black market. If you’ve experienced addiction to alcohol or drugs in the past, you’re more likely to become addicted to painkillers too.
You experience mood swings, depression, and other symptoms
An addicted person often becomes so occupied with their quest for the next dose of painkillers that they begin to neglect their appearance. They may experience changes in their eating and sleeping patterns have trouble concentrating or experience mood swings – especially when there is a shortage of painkillers.
If you are addicted, you may find that you begin to suffer from depression and fatigue. You might start to avoid spending time with family and friends because your pain killer addiction now takes precedence over your social and family life. A study cited in ‘Science Daily’ found that the risk of depression became greater, possibly because opiates such as codeine make it more difficult for you to experience pleasure.
You feel the need to defend or conceal your use of painkillers
If you start showing the symptoms of painkiller addiction, concerned family members, friends and co-workers may question you about your habit. If your immediate reaction is defensive and you begin to hide your habit from others, you are showing typical signs of addiction.
Some painkiller addicts are so good at hiding their habit that even their closest friends and family members fail to realize that their nearest and dearest have become painkiller addicts. After all, a painkiller addict doesn’t fit the usual addict’s profile. Most painkiller addicts are respected and successful members of society.
You experience physical symptoms when you skip a dose
Painkiller addiction is a physical addiction rather than a psychological one. You have a physical dependency. Withdrawal symptoms may include pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety and difficulty in sleeping. In fact, the physical pain of withdrawal causes painkiller addicts to take what their bodies are asking for: more painkillers. It is ironic that the very medication you use to treat pain may cause it when you become addicted.
You begin to neglect your responsibilities
One of the saddest things about addiction is that the things that used to matter most in your life begin to take the back seat. Your work, studies, family and friends may suffer from neglect. You may even hear complaints from those closest to you, your boss or your lecturers. You may find that you are no longer able to manage your finances well.
If you are suffering from a pain killer addiction, it’s important to remember that you are not a weak or bad person. You are a victim of circumstance, and if you are willing to admit that you have a problem and seek help, you can look forward to the restoration of your former state of health and happiness.