Last Updated on November 13, 2021 by Morris Green
Understanding addiction and abuse are difficult challenges for those who haven’t experienced them. Or at least experienced them in the form of a drug dependency. Addiction can trigger a shift in a person’s physical habits and mental well-being. We have already discussed what this can look like and how to tell if a person is hooked on pain meds. Now we are going to take a moment to discuss why this happens, and what painkillers can do to a person’s mental and physical state when taken beyond the healing period.
Table of contents
What Are Painkillers?
Painkillers act as a way of blocking the nerve signals carrying information for “pain” (the whole process described at https://www.neuropathyreliefguide.com/nerve-renew-review/). In some cases, they are also capable of stimulating the areas of the brain responsible for our feelings of pleasure, and such cases producing something of a “high.”
Opioids are painkillers derived from a compound similar to opium and are made to cause the same effects on your nervous system as opium poppy-based drugs. Some highly abused painkillers made from opioid compound include:
- Oxycodone, which is known to carry the highest risk for dependence.
- Hydrocodone, which is commonly sold in the form of capsules, tablets, and syrups.
- Meperidine, which can be found in tablet and capsule form, depending on the brand.
Drug-Free World tells us the story of James, a young man who became addicted to a prescription painkiller after having surgery. He explains the similarities of his addiction to that of heroine and expresses his horrible withdrawal experience. His experience highlights the need to be sure before you begin a painkiller regimen that you talk to your doctor, know what you’re taking, and fully recognize the risks involved.
How Does One Become Addicted?
Painkillers are not intended to be a negative substance to be abused. They are produced to help a person through a trying period of physical pain. And some painkillers, such as SSRIs, are non-habit-forming. More addictive painkillers like opioids are likely to become a problem for those individuals who already have a genetic predisposition to addiction.
Because painkillers are so simple to use and have effective results, they’ve become the number one go-to solution for pain management. As such, some people are tempted to take more as physical suffering continues. But there are several other reasons people become dependent.
Though alternatives do exist, such as physical therapy and other pain management services, society puts a focus on pain meds before alternatives. We may also find it much harder to seek out these other options.
Painkillers can cause an emotional numbness alongside the numbing of physical pain. It can be an attractive side effect to those who are under severe emotional distress, but these drugs are made to ease physical pain, and should not be taken for the purposes of dealing with emotional problems where a counselor or therapist might help.
Unfortunately, building a tolerance to pain meds can happen at a quick rate. Users of these drugs may find their pain getting worse and think they need a higher dosage for relief.
Who Becomes Affected?
WebMD tells us another story, one of Jason, who was overcome by an addiction to painkillers as a teenager. Jason’s doctor put him on a powerful drug meant to help him with migraines. Though his symptoms did clear up, he started to take the pills even when he was not in pain because he liked the way they made him feel. His addiction reached a point where he was taking as many as 45 pills in a single day.
Jason’s case is unique in that his prescription was treating a medical condition versus an operation or injury, which is the more common route to prescription painkiller abuse and dependency. In such circumstances, patients will often continue to take their meds simply because they enjoy them, long after their recovery period.
Expert opinion estimates over 8.5 million people living in the United States are abusing prescription drugs. As for our youth, about 8 percent of students in their last year of high school admit to the use of Hydrocodone outside of medical purposes.
Determining the exact cause of addiction for each case is a difficult undertaking, as some can take painkillers without developing a dependency — even after a short period of abuse. One of the most telling factors is whether or not there is a presence of addiction in a patient’s family history – or even in their own past habits. Have they abused alcohol in the past, or currently? Have they struggled with an addiction to any other drug, such as cocaine? If the answer is yes to either of these, they will need to be more cautious when taking pain medications and possibly want to consider alternatives, such as a less addictive types of medication.
Early life traumas, such as the death of a parent, household violence, and physical or sexual abuse, can contribute to a person’s likelihood of developing a painkiller dependence. In addition to emotional instability, a history of mental conditions can also make way for addiction. Patients with common conditions, such as anxiety and depression, are more likely to be hooked for a long-term duration.
What We Face Today
The biggest problem we are faced with today is the high availability of pain medications. We are currently looking at an increase of written prescriptions by 400 percent over the last decade, according to the New Mexico Department of Health’s Jim Davis. Davis also notes that in 2012, an estimated 259 million Americans were on prescription painkillers.
These numbers are staggering and troublesome. We have reached a point where death by prescription drug abuse has risen to exceed illegal drug-related deaths, such as cocaine and heroin. Because these are legal substances, we must remain even more diligent in educating ourselves, preventing cases, and assisting those suffering from addiction during the recovery process. While efforts are being made to cut back prescriptions, it doesn’t stop there. Prescription drug abuse is a big problem, and we must all put forth an effort to prevent prescription painkiller addiction from claiming any more lives.