You had major surgery or experienced a painful injury. Afterward, your doctor prescribed an opiate to help you manage your discomfort. Although you were initially a little worried about taking Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone, OxyContin, or some other pain management drug, you decided you were being a wimp. After all, if a physician felt that the drug was okay to take, you should not worry about it. There is no way you could get addicted, right?
The truth is, people across the nation get addicted — often without realizing it at first blush — to commonly prescribed painkillers. It does not matter if they had a tendency toward addictive behaviors. Any individual who takes opiates is at risk for addiction because of the dangers of prescription meds.
Why Painkillers Present a Dangerous Scenario for Addiction
An increasing number of people who seek out help from a rehab center come in with addictions to painkillers. They are usually just as surprised as their family members that they have become dependent upon the painkillers and may have even taken illegal actions, such as getting painkillers from many different pharmacies or purchasing painkillers on the black market, to obtain their preferred drugs.
Painkillers present a “perfect storm” scenario for the fostering of addictive behaviors for numerous reasons:
- They are seen as harmless because they are prescribed by trusted doctors.
- They are legally obtained.
- They work very well at numbing pain, so they seem to do what they are supposed to do.
- The person who is prescribed the painkiller is in such agony that he/she is willing to try anything.
Consequently, painkillers are painted in a relatively innocent light. Even though the media has recently done a decent job of putting out information on the addictive nature of prescription painkillers, painkillers are still prescribed quite commonly.
The Addiction Cycle of Painkillers
The feelings that are created by painkillers are similar to those of illegal drugs. First, you feel the effects of the painkiller. Though your pain does not actually “go away,” your brain and nervous system are fooled into believing the pain no longer exists or exists at a more moderate level. Eventually, the painkiller wears off, and another dose is required.
Over time, your body adjusts to the effects of the painkiller. This means a higher dose is necessary to achieve the same results. Just like other kinds of drugs, the cycle continues and continues, requiring ever-increasing dosage amounts to get the same “high” (although it is not called a “high” by doctors.)
If it sounds scary, it is because it is. You can get addicted to painkillers just as you can get addicted to alcohol or heroin. There is an answer, though: Recovery centers. A well-run recovery center that has staff experienced in dealing with those addicted to painkillers will have the expertise to help you if you have fallen into the cycle of painkiller abuse.
Want more information for yourself or a loved one? Pick up the phone and call today to find out how we can help you overcome the dangers of prescription meds.