Opioid painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, are potent drugs that have a high potential for abuse. Along with heroin, opioid pain pills are at the heart of the opioid crisis, which claimed 15,000 lives due to overdose alone in 2015. If you’re addicted to pain pills, you’re at a high risk of overdosing, along with a host of other major health problems down the road. The first step to determining whether you’re addicted to pain pills is to understand what, exactly, addiction is.
Abuse, Addiction, and Dependence: What’s the Difference?
Drug abuse, addiction, and dependence are not the same things.
Drug abuse is the act of using drugs in a way that causes problems for you. Any use of illegal drugs is considered drug abuse, since these drugs can cause major health and legal problems as well as lead to high-risk behaviors. Likewise, any time you use a prescription medication in a way other than exactly as prescribed by your doctor, it’s considered drug abuse, because doing so is both dangerous and illegal.
Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug abuse despite the negative consequences it causes in your life. These problems may be related to your health, relationships, finances, or legal status. Addiction causes changes in your brain structures and functions, and these affect your thought and behavior patterns. If you’re addicted to pain pills, you’ll find that you’re unable to stop using them, even if you want to or have tried to stop. Once an addiction develops, it almost always requires professional help to end it for the long-term.
Dependence is a physical reliance on a drug. Dependence occurs as your brain function changes to compensate for the presence of a drug. These brain changes result in tolerance, which means that you need increasingly larger doses of a drug to get the same effects. At some point, brain function may shift, and your brain will begin operating more comfortably when the drug is present. Then, when you stop using it, normal brain function rebounds, and this causes the onset of withdrawal symptoms.
Opioid painkillers produce a high level of tolerance very quickly, which can produce dependence soon after you begin to take them. Additionally, the psychoactive effects of opiates include an intense euphoria, which makes these medications highly addictive.
Are You Addicted to Pain Pills?
Addiction is not a moral failing, and it’s not a lack of willpower. It’s a chronic disease of the brain caused by drug abuse, just as heart disease and diabetes are chronic diseases caused by other types of lifestyle choices. Once an addiction develops, there’s no longer a choice involved in substance abuse. It becomes compulsive, and you’ll continue using even as your life falls apart all around you. This is one of the primary pain pill addiction signs.
Other signs that you’re addicted to pain pills include:
- Using pain pills in larger quantities or for a longer period of time than you intended.
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed.
- Continuing to use pain pills despite the negative consequences they cause for your health, relationships, finances, or legal status.
- Finding that you’re unable to stop using even though you’ve tried.
- Neglecting duties at home, work, or school due to using or recovering from using.
- Engaging in high risk behaviors in order to obtain pills or while under the influence.
If you have any of these painkiller addiction symptoms, WhiteSands Treatment Center can help. We can help you detox safely and comfortably from pain pills so that you can focus on treatment and recovery.
A high quality treatment program for people with painkiller addiction symptoms addresses the issues that underlie the addiction. Treatment helps you learn to cope with cravings, stress, and other triggers, and it helps you find purpose and meaning in a life free of drugs.
If you have one or more of the pain pill addiction signs and are ready to end your addiction once and for all, contact WhiteSands Treatment Center in Fort Myers today. Treatment works to restore lives, and it can work to restore yours.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.
About the Author
Mark is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.