Every year, millions of Americans are prescribed painkillers. These are potent drugs designed to alleviate severe pain, such as after major surgery or a severe injury. While they undoubtedly produce legitimate medical benefits, they can also be dangerous and potentially addictive. While plenty of people recreationally abuse painkillers and develop a dependency, there are also people who take their medications as directed and yet still develop substance dependency issues. If you or someone you love is abusing or addicted to painkillers, a professional drug and alcohol rehab treatment center is the best option for regaining sobriety.
How Do People Become Addicted to Painkillers?
It doesn’t matter why you take them; painkillers are addictive. Whether your doctor prescribes them or you purchase them illegally, these drugs change the way your brain functions. However, abusing painkillers by taking large doses or mixing them with alcohol expedites dependency and addiction.
When taking painkillers, the pain receptors in the brain recognize them first. Essentially, these medications turn your cognitive pain switch off while providing a relaxed, euphoric feeling. Over time, it takes more and more medication to turn off the pain receptor switch. Without the drugs, you might feel like you’re in more pain than ever before.
This occurs because your brain develops tolerance. Among people who use opioid painkillers, this is especially true. You’ll crave increasing amounts of the drug, thus establishing a dangerous pattern of future use.
Additionally, some factors increase the likelihood of painkiller addiction development. For example, those with a mental illness, a history of trauma, or the inability to manage stress are more susceptible. Genetics also play a role in whether an individual exhibits addictive behavior.
Identifying an Addiction to Painkillers
It’s challenging to determine whether someone has a painkiller addiction. If a physician prescribes painkillers, there is still a risk of dependency developing. Some common side effects and symptoms of painkiller abuse are:
- Feeling high (euphoria)
- Slowed breathing
As the abuse progresses to full-blown addiction, changes to behavior and physical well-being may appear. Some changes to watch for if you suspect a loved one is struggling with painkiller addiction are:
- Doctor shopping: This occurs when a person uses their prescription pills faster than their scheduled refills and visits multiple doctors, pain management clinics, or pharmacies to obtain more painkillers.
- Excessive mood swings or hostility: A person in the throes of painkiller addiction is prone to changes in mood and anger issues. This will obviously impact relationships among friends, family, and coworkers and, in some cases, could result in the loss of a job or estrangement from family.
- Poor decision-making: Driving while high, acting impulsively, or engaging in risky behavior are all signs that the addition is in control.
If you feel the need to lie about pain, painkiller consumption, or how you use your medication, or struggle to maintain relationships at work, school, or at home, you likely have an addiction.
It’s also important to remember that most painkillers aren’t long-term solutions to other problems. Relying on them for extended periods of time causes people to change hygiene habits, sleep patterns, and even their personalities. If you see these changes develop over time, you might have an addiction.
Timeline and Process for Recovery
While prescription drug addictions don’t develop after one use, they can develop relatively quickly. This is because most opioid painkillers are highly addictive, and your mind and body quickly crave the combination of euphoria and lack of pain. It is challenging to break an addiction to prescription painkillers by yourself. The process of recovery starts with an intake evaluation from a professional painkiller treatment center, which determines the specific treatment you’ll go through.
It will most likely begin with a supervised detox at the treatment facility, and afterward, a personalized treatment plan will determine whether inpatient or outpatient care is needed. There is also a 90-day extended care program for people with severe addictions. Additionally, intensive outpatient programs are an effective option for patients with optimal support at home. The right level of care will depend entirely upon the specific nature of a person’s addiction. No two people experience addiction the same, even if they are dependent upon the same substance.
Overcoming Painkiller Addiction at San Antonio Recovery Center
San Antonio Recovery Centers offer various treatment methods to conquer prescription drug abuse and addiction. Just a handful of the available options include:
Painkiller addiction is incredibly challenging to overcome, but the right support makes it possible. At San Antonio Recovery Center in Texas, you can end addiction once and for all. Take back your life today with a painkiller rehab program by calling 866.957.7885.