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. Additionally, 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 Addiction
What are Opioid Painkillers?
An opioid is a substance that activates the opioid receptors located in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. Prescription pain relievers are potent narcotics prescribed by physicians because they treat moderate to severe pain. However, different painkillers are indicated for different uses and can range from post-surgery pain to trauma and injuries. Opioids have been around for ages because they are prized for their essential role in treating long-term, chronic pain in terminally ill patients with conditions such as cancer. In recent years, prescriptions for opiate painkillers have increased, especially for non-malignant, chronic pain. Some opiates treat “breakthrough” pain or pain that persists despite taking another type of pain reliever.
In the U.S., opiates are approved for use as a pain reliever, cough suppressant, and anti-diarrhea medication. Additionally, opiate medications such as Suboxone and buprenorphine are used in replacement therapy to help wean users from addiction to other opiates.
Painkiller Side Effects
For example, side effects from painkillers can include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
- Pupil constriction
- Muscle and bone pain
- Extreme irritability
- Muscle spasms
In addition, severe side effects can include:
- Acute respiratory Depression
- Confusion or stupor
- Clammy skin
- Circulatory collapse
- Cardiac arrest
Moreover, one of the most common complaints among opioid painkiller users is constipation.
Drug 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. However, these pleasurable feelings often lead to painkiller abuse. These side effects could cause the patient to take the opiate drug against doctor’s orders.
Tolerance happens after you take opiate medications for a while and feel the need to take more and more to achieve the same effect. When not treated, tolerance rapidly turns into physical dependence. Although dependence creates constant urges, it is not the same as 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. To illustrate, 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 opiate drugs. Moreover, doctors consider the condition to be a central nervous system disorder.
Prescription painkiller addiction is hard to break free from without medical treatment. Although there are many available treatment options, some are just much more successful than others. If you ‘Google’ drug treatment, you will find drug rehabs, medical detox,12-step programs, outpatient clinics, and rapid detox. Furthermore, some treatment centers are faith-based, while others rely on science. To find the best treatment center, it is crucial to carefully research each treatment center’s safety protocol, offerings, experience, and success rate.
Finding the Best Prescription Painkiller Treatment Program
Painkillers can make a dramatic difference in people’s lives. When left untreated, it can destroy relationships, careers, and mainly a person’s health. Dealing with opiate addiction can be a very trying and complicated process. But, the good news is medical science has evolved so effective and humane treatment is available. The right detoxification program and support system can be lifesaving for a person ready to seek help in ending this vicious cycle of painkiller addiction.
If you or someone close to you struggles with abuse of prescription painkillers, call now for professional support and treatment. We are here for you, seven days a week!
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