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6 Most Addictive Painkillers and Their Side Effects

Most Addictive Painkillers and Their Side Effects

Pain medicines have been used by doctors for centuries, both to address post-surgery discomfort and longer-term, chronic issues. Developing a physical dependence has always been a problem for patients and physicians to deal with as a side effect of pain management. In recent decades, opioid medications have been one of the primary drugs a doctor prescribes for those same instances of acute and chronic pain. One issue that has come out of this is that a physical dependence can develop even when opioid drugs are taken exactly as prescribed. At drug detox center Costa Mesa, we understand that this is a problem in many communities from coast to coast and have opiate and opioid patient care techniques and processes as part of our overall substance abuse treatment. If you or one of your loved ones is having an issue with abuse and addiction involving a pain reliever drug or any other substance, give us a call today. We’re here to help.

How Painkiller Addiction Develops

The opioid crisis in the United States is a complicated issue as pain medications are a necessary part of legitimate medical practice. There are several ways that people develop an opioid addiction, some of which may be surprising to those who have not dealt with abuse and addiction in the past. A tolerance, dependence, or opioid addiction can develop even when medications are taken exactly as prescribed. That is why it is very important for patients to inform their doctors if and when any change to the effect of opioid medications they are taking occurs. Anyone taking opioid medications for acute pain or chronic issues that feels there is a change in how they are working should request an appointment with their health care provider immediately. This type of change in the effect of prescription pain medications can be signs of tolerance to the drug and lead to addiction if not addressed. Whether it’s pain medicines or any other drug your health care provider prescribes or suggests, always inform them of any changes or issues you have with the over-the-counter or prescription medications ordered. For further information on medication management, such as understanding How Long Does Zoloft Stay In Your System, it’s critical to seek professional advice.

The abuse of opioids is another way addiction to prescription pain medications can develop. How this happens can vary depending on the reason for the specific person’s opioid abuse. Someone dealing with moderate to severe pain may go from taking opioids exactly as prescribed, but later increase their dosage on their own without consulting a healthcare professional.  This is a form of self-medication, and can easily lead to opioid addiction.  This type of abuse may seem benign, as the person is using the drug to relieve pain, as it was intended.  However, misuse and addiction go hand and hand, and even people who are taking opioids for short term, acute pain need to be careful with increasing their own dosage.

The second way misuse and addiction occur is when someone experiencing moderate to severe pain “borrows” someone else’s prescription medication. Again, this may seem like legitimate use of prescription pain medication, while just going around the process of seeing a healthcare professional.  This can be very dangerous both regarding opioid misuse and addiction and possible overdose or other negative side effects.  Healthcare providers order specific pain medications for their patients based on many factors and after having done a complete medical history.  When someone takes a pain medication not intended for them, they do not know the dose or frequency or any other information that would normally be provided by a doctor.  This can easily lead to opioid addiction very rapidly, depending on the exact prescription medication involved. 

The third way opioid addiction involving legitimate pain reliever medications occurs is when someone takes them recreationally.  This occurs when someone has access to unused, prescribed pain medications initially intended for a family member, loved, one or friend.  Opioid pain medications are also sold on the black market and in some cases are easier to get than traditional street drugs like heroin.  Heroin and synthetic opioid addicts often go back and forth between substances, depending on what is most readily available at any given moment.  

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6 Most Addictive Painkillers

Synthetic opioids as a category are at the top of the list when it comes to abuse and addiction.  Within this category, there are several specific substances that rate as highly addictive pain medications. Most pain medications come with the risks of addiction, but there are some that should be even more closely monitored, again, even when taken exactly as prescribed.  Here are a few of the pain medicines at the top of the opioid misuse and addiction list:

  • Percocet: This is one of the most popular opioid medications and is a blend of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Healthcare providers typically prescribe it for moderate to severe pain, Percocet is known to be highly addictive. When someone develops a tolerance for Percocet, they may move on to more dangerous substances, like heroin.
  • OxyContin: OxyContin is prescribed for chronic pain. It remains in a person’s system for 12 to 24 hours before wearing off. Doctors widely prescribed OxyContin for years which added to the spread of the opioid epidemic.
  • Demerol: This prescription opioid comes in syrup, tablet, and injectable forms making it easy for substance abusers to take in their preferred method.
  • Morphine: Doctors use this drug to treat pain for decades, but it is also one of the most addictive opioid painkillers. Researchers and scientists have tried to replace it with other prescription pain medications, but these replacements often were addictive, too.
  • Vicodin: This is another type of opioid that is a combination of drugs, in this case acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Like Percocet, Vicodin is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Unfortunately, millions of people developed a substance abuse problem because of Vicodin. In many cases, this led to the abuse of harder drugs as the substance began to have less and less effect. 
  • Fentanyl: This prescription pain medication has been blamed for the current and ongoing opioid overdose crisis due to Fentanyl being 80 times more potent than historically abused drugs like heroin. It is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. People end up overdosing as they do not understand the magnitude of Fentanyl versus other painkillers.

Signs and Symptoms of Painkiller Addiction

There are four categories of the signs of painkiller misuse and addiction.  People who are struggling with opioid abuse often display mood symptoms like mood swings or euphoria from recently taking opioids. They also change how they act and have behavioral symptoms, including lying, social isolation, stealing and committing other crimes to obtain more painkillers, and visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain additional prescriptions. There is also a long list of physical symptoms involved with opioid abuse, and these can include constipation, nausea and vomiting, pinpoint pupils and other abnormal dilation, slurred speech, itchy skin, respiratory depression, tolerance to pain medications, and seizures.  Last but not least, there are psychological symptoms that someone struggling with opioid misuse and addiction may display including depression, anxiety, and worsening mood states. If one of your loved ones has been taking prescription pain medication and shows any of these signs or symptoms, suggest they requesnt an appointment immediately with their health care provider in order to review their use. 

When To Seek Addiction Treatment

It is often hard for a person to tell on their own if they have a problem with prescription opioids, especially if they have been taking opioid pain medicines exactly as prescribed. That’s why it’s important to report any changes in the effects of pain medications, especially those for moderate to severe pain, immediately.  There are several signs that you should seek treatment for opioid abuse and addiction.  First, if you think you have built up a tolerance to prescribed pain medications, this can indicate you’ve developed an addiction. If you try to use less of the pain reliever you have been prescribed and begin to go into opioid withdrawal, which can include body aches and nausea, you should seek treatment right away.  If you have cravings for the prescription opioids you’ve been ordered to take or for any other substance you’ve been taking on your own more frequently than normal, this is also a sign of addiction. Any change in how you feel or your behavior should be taken seriously and reported to a medical professional immediately. 

Painkiller Rehab at Resurgence Behavioral Health

There are many ways a person can develop an opioid addiction and thankfully there are a lot of addiction treatment resources available.  At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we have many levels of care that can assist with opioid addiction treatment.  Substance abuse can affect people in many ways and that’s why we have customized programs designed to help our clients deal with opioid addiction or any other issues with drugs or alcohol.  If you or one of your loved ones has developed an opioid addiction, no matter the circumstances, give us a call today. Our highly trained counselors will assist you with choosing the treatment that is right for you. 

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