Prescription drug addiction differs from other forms of drug abuse and addiction in that the abuse develops very subtly and the addiction, gradually. In many cases prescription drug use will start with a medical need. Those who use painkillers – one of the most common prescription drugs being abused – do not start out trying to get “high”; they only want to stop the pain.
Furthermore, those who become addicted to do not even consider themselves “addicts” because of the legality of the prescription drug they use.
The Addiction Worsens Progressively
An inpidual experiencing chronic pain will start out by taking the painkiller as prescribed. When the effect of the painkiller wears off, they take more pills than prescribed. Before they know it, they are taking their medication more than 5 - 7 times a day. Tolerance to the drug is then developed. Because they don’t feel the effect of the drug even if they take a lot of it, they may try a combination of methods in order to increase the effect including Valium and or alcohol. The painkiller abuse has therefore led to a dependency, which could be both physical and psychological.
Addicted inpiduals soon find their lives revolving around the medication. Instead of taking the correct step and talking to their doctor about the decreased effect of the medication or their sudden increase of dosage, they resort to “doctor shopping”. This means that they consult a different doctor every time in order to obtain a prescription. They are finding ways to feed their addiction.
This process of obtaining more medication is dangerous as it has significant effects on an inpidual’s health. The chronic pain sufferer may find that his medication does not produce the same results even with increased dosage. Soon, their body will start to crave for larger doses and the sufferer may develop tolerance for the drug which could lead to physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- Profound anxiety
Aside from “doctor shopping” a person addicted to painkillers will also resort to taking prescription drugs prescribed for someone else.
According to a newly released national study, today’s teens are at a very high risk of taking prescription medicines, such as painkillers, as a means of getting high. The 17th annual study on drug abuse found that in 2004, more teens had abused prescription pain medication than Cocaine, Crack, Ecstasy or LSD. The most common prescription medication being abused is Vicodin, with about 18% or 4.3 million youth admitting that they had used it to get high.
If you or someone you love is addicted to prescription pain medicine, remember that help is available. This addiction is not something to be ashamed of. Rather, it is something that needs addiction treatment as soon as possible.