a woman struggles with opioid pain pill addiction

What You Might Not Know About Opioid Pain Pills

More than 40% of Americans say they know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, and a majority say that lack of access to treatment for people with substance abuse issues is a problem, a new survey shows. The poll results released in May 2016 by the Kaiser Family Foundation also found that more than 80% of the public said better prescription training for doctors, increased access to treatment programs, and improved monitoring of prescribing practices was needed to fight the epidemic. 

The survey comes as the abuse of opioids,  including prescription painkillers (like Percocet and OxyContin) and heroin,  has skyrocketed in recent years. This alarming increase in prescription drug abuse is telling us that there is a dire need for high-quality opioid addiction treatment programs. Promises Recovery Ranch offers professionally-guided opioid addiction treatment programs. Reach out today at 717.969.9126 to learn more.

What You Might Now Know About Opioid Pain Pills

Opioid painkillers are often prescribed after surgery to help with pain management while a person recovers. They are highly addictive, and long-term use is very dangerous. Something a lot of people don’t understand is that opioid abuse can actually lead to worsening pain, as the person who has become dependent on the more pleasurable effects of opioids and needs them now to function can’t tell that their physical pain is no longer affected by the drugs and may even be getting worse.

The dangerous cycle of opioid pain pill addiction can have severe consequences on a person’s health and life, and it is so easy to get wrapped up in it; many people may not even realize they have a problem until it’s too late. Understanding painkiller addiction and knowing what to look for is vital to recognizing when someone needs help.

Leading Causes of Pain Pill Addiction

So how did we get here? The main driver in the spike in opioid abuse and overdose is the availability of prescription pain relievers. People are often first exposed to them after surgery or getting their wisdom teeth out, and most have no issue with taking the prescribed dosage for the recommended period of time as they recover. Unfortunately, others become physically and psychologically dependent on these pills, and eventually, they are fully addicted and require the substance in order to function in daily life.

The number of U.S. prescriptions for opioid painkillers doubled over 15 years, from 105 million in 1998 to 207 million in 2013. And eventually, for many people, pain medication abuse leads to heroin. But why would doctors prescribe so many opioids? The practice goes back to 1996 when the American Pain Society declared pain the “fifth vital sign.” However well-intentioned, this emphasis on patient contentment led to opioid pain pills becoming the leading cause of death in the U.S. Many dentists now won’t prescribe them after tooth extractions to try and prevent the opioid addiction epidemic from growing.

Prescription Pill Addiction in Question

The irony here is that despite the wholesale use of opioid medications to treat chronic pain, recent studies have shown that taking acetaminophen and ibuprofen together can produce better pain relief than prescription medications. There is no high-quality evidence on the efficacy of long-term opioid treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain. 

Long-time use of painkillers can actually heighten a patient’s sensitivity to pain and reduce tolerance. When the pain increases, people begin taking higher doses of prescription opioids. However, increasing the dose can worsen hyperalgesia and cause even more pain, creating a dangerous cycle.

Signs a Loved One Has a Prescription Pill Addiction 

Long-term opioid use causes changes to brain chemistry that can stop the body from producing natural opioid compounds. Without any opioids in the body, an individual enters such a state of misery that they can think of nothing other than finding another fix. But make no mistake. An addiction to opioids is not a moral failing, and it’s not about a lack of willpower. It is a chronic disease.

This type of disease is similar to other chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Because no single treatment works for everyone who has become addicted to opioids, options include the use of medications like buprenorphine, behavioral interventions, and family and group counseling. Here are warning signs to look for if you think someone you know may have developed a prescription pill addiction:

  • During intoxication, a person may appear drowsy, move slowly, have trouble concentrating, show signs of anxiety and depression, suffer mood swings, and withdraw from friends and family.
  • Behavioral changes in someone with an opioid addiction include expressions of hostility or anger, paranoia, skipping work or school, being increasingly secretive, changing the people they hang out with, and stealing money from loved ones.

Find Relief From Pain Pill Addiction at Promises Recovery Ranch

Experts believe the stigma attached to addiction can prevent people from admitting they are in trouble and seeking help. This contributes to a large number of fatal overdoses. The fact is that long-term, professionally-guided opioid addiction treatments have been proven to help people break free from addiction and put their lives back together. For more information about treatment for painkiller addiction and how to find help near you. Reach out to our team of experts at Promises recovery today at 717.969.9126.

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