Prescription painkillers, or opiates, are analgesic medications available only by prescription from a doctor, dentist, veterinarian or other licensed medical personnel.
Natural opiates are found in the resin of the opium poppy plant and include morphine and codeine. Semi-synthetic opiates are natural and include buprenorphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone. There are also fully synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl, Tramadol, Norco, Lortab, Lorcet, Dilaudid, and methadone.
Prescription Painkiller Uses
Prescription pain relievers are strong narcotics for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Different painkillers are indicated for different uses and can range from post-surgery pain to trauma and injuries. Opioids have been around for ages and prized for their essential role in treating long-term, chronic pain in those who are terminally ill with conditions such as cancer. In recent years, prescriptions for opiate painkillers have increased, especially for non-malignant, chronic pain. Some opiates are designed to treat “breakthrough” pain or pain that persists despite taking another type of pain reliever. An opioid is a substance that activates the opioid receptors, located in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract.
In the U.S., opiates are approved for the use as a pain reliever, cough suppressant, and anti-diarrhea medication. Opiate medications such as Suboxone and buprenorphine are used in replacement therapy to help wean users from addiction to other opiates.
Painkiller Side Effects and Risks
Side effects from painkillers can include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
- Pupil constriction
- Muscle and bone pain
- Extreme irritability
- Muscle spasms
Severe side effects can include:
- Severe respiratory
- Confusion or stupor
- Clammy skin
- Circulatory collapse
- Cardiac arrest
One of the most common complaints among users is constipation.
Pain Medication Abuse and Tolerance
Opiate painkillers are generally safe if taken for a brief amount of time; usually a week or less. Although these drugs are beneficial for managing the discomforts of pain, they can also provide individuals with a feeling of well-being and euphoria. These pleasurable feelings often lead to painkiller abuse. Each of those effects could cause the patient to take the opiate drug, in a way your doctor did not intend.
Tolerance happens, after you take opiate medications for a while, and feel the need to take more and more to achieve the same effect. Tolerance rapidly turns into physical dependence, which is not an addiction (see below). You know you developed a dependence when you abruptly stop taking the painkiller, and you feel withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Nausea, and vomiting
- Muscle pain
Withdrawal and Addiction
For those who are dependent on opiates, withdrawing from them can be extremely difficult and intense. Many are unable to kick the addiction without medical intervention. Symptoms of withdrawal can include nausea, vomiting, chills, insomnia, muscle and bone pain, tremors, slowed breathing and headaches. Opiate dependence is often the result of the persistent use of opiates drugs. The condition, is also thought to be a disorder of the central nervous system.
Prescription painkiller addiction is hard to break free without treatment. There are some available treatment options including Drug Rehab, Medical Detox,12-step Programs, Outpatient Clinics and rapid detox, Some painkiller treatment centers are faith-based, while others rely on science. It is crucial to carefully research each treatment center safety protocol, treatment offerings, experience and success rates.
Painkillers can make a dramatic difference to peoples lives. When left untreated, it can destroy relationships, careers and mainly peoples health. Dealing opiate addiction can be a very trying and complicated process. The good news is medical science has evolved effective and humane treatment is available. The right detoxification program and support system can be lifesaving for a person who is ready to seek help in ending this vicious cycle of painkiller addiction.
If you or someone close to you is struggling with abuse of prescription painkillers, call now for professional support and treatment. We are here for you!