With greater availability and social acceptance of their use, prescription painkiller abuse has risen dramatically over the course of the past few decades. Painkillers claimed more lives in 2008 than heroin and cocaine combined. The line between proper use and abuse can feel like a high-wire act as it’s entirely possible to develop physical dependence even when following your doctor’s orders precisely. If you’re worried that you might be addicted to prescription painkillers, there are a few warning signs you should be aware of.
How Do I Know if I’m Addicted to Painkillers?
Have you ever skipped a dose so you could take more for greater effect later? Have you or others noticed marked changes in your personality and behavior since you began taking the drug? Do you ever try to obtain pills from friends or sources other than your doctor? These are all classic signs of prescription painkiller addiction.
How Do Painkillers Affect My Body?
If painkillers are prescribed by a doctor, they can’t be that bad for you, can they? Well, painkillers are typically only prescribed when other treatment options aren’t available. Doctors know the drugs have powerful potential for addiction. Even in limited use, some of the common side effects include:
- Constipation – As a result, use may lead to intestinal and stomach issues.
- Compromised immune system – You may experience more infections as your body’s self-defense mechanisms are weakened.
- Hormonal imbalances – Hot flashes, weight gain, lower sex drive, infertility, depression and even bone loss are potential side effects—especially in individuals who exceed recommended doses or duration of use.
- Changes in brain activity – Your brain, particularly the area that regulates self-control, may change considerably while using painkillers. It’s extremely common for opioid abuse to transition to heroin abuse as a result of changes in judgment and behavior.
Painkiller Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
No two addictions or individuals are exactly alike. When you stop using painkillers, you may experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. Some of the more common ones are:
- Trouble sleeping
- Aches and pains
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increases in heart rate
You might be able to stop taking painkillers on your own as these symptoms usually aren’t life-threatening. If your medication is of the short-acting variety, you can start by increasing the time between doses. Then, transition to taking fewer pills at a time. This process should last about a week before you try quitting completely.
With long-acting medication, you want to start by decreasing the dose. However, you should never cut or crush long-acting medications in order to reduce the amount. As the month progresses, gradually increase the time between doses until you’re only taking it once a day. Then, you can try to stop.
Do You Need Help Recovering from Painkiller Addiction?
If you’ve tried to quit on your own and failed, don’t worry or feel ashamed. You’ve already taken steps towards a healthier, drug-free lifestyle. That’s important progress! Design for Change Recovery Services can help you develop the skills you need to succeed. Our addiction treatment facilities in Lancaster, California are equipped to treat both addiction and mental health issues if you suffer from co-occurring disorders. Our team is invested in helping you make a recovery. We work with a variety of insurance providers to help you find a treatment plan that fits your financial needs as well as the physical and mental ones. Our compassionate addiction experts are standing by to help, so call today.