When you think about substance abuse or addiction, chances are you consider things like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, meth, and other illicit street drugs. So, when you hear about the widespread spike in opioid addictions in the US, it probably throws you off guard. How is it that something prescribed by the doctor to treat your pain and discomfort, become a substance that takes over your life? Like most medications, painkillers are only meant to be taken when in need and for a short period of time as your body can develop a tolerance and you’re at increased risk for other side effects.
Those suffering from an injury, hurting while recovering from surgery, or managing pain from a chronic illness, are prescribed high-grade medicine designed to temporarily relieve pain. However, when used on a regular basis, taking medications like fentanyl can become a problem. Users essentially start off wanting to feel better and take the medication as prescribed, but as their body adapts to the dosage, they increase their dosage without proper consent and create a pattern that quickly turns into full-blown addiction.
How do you know if you’re dealing with a painkiller addiction? Though symptoms can vary from one person to the next, here are some telltale signs that you need to visit resources like epiphanysoberliving.com and get assistance with kicking your habit for good.
- You’ve Increased Your Dose – If your doctor advised you to take 1 pill every 4-6 hours and you increase that to 2, 3, or more, this could be a sign that you’re developing an addiction.
- It’s All You Think About – Have you started counting down the minutes until you can take your next pill? Are you so preoccupied with when you’ll take them again that you’re not even concerned about whether or not you need them? Believe it or not, those suffering from an opioid addiction will long for the medicine even after their injuries have healed or the pain has subsided.
- You Switch Doctors Often – You can tell you have a problem with painkillers when you switch doctors simply because your primary physician won’t give you another prescription or because you “need” more medicine, but aren’t due for a refill for a while. Going to another doctor for diagnosis and prescriptions to tide you over is a surefire sign that you have an addiction.
- You’ll Get it Any way You Can – When you can’t get your prescription filled do you turn to other sources to get it? Are you calling family members asking if they have leftover pills, searching the internet for a site to buy from, driving on street corners looking for a dealer with your meds? Going to such lengths is a sign that you need to detox and find other methods for relieving your pain.
- You Try to Hide Your Meds and Get Defensive – There’s certainly nothing wrong with taking pain medication if you’re actually in pain or using it as prescribed. So, if you start hiding your prescriptions out of embarrassment, chances are you’re dealing with an addiction. The same may be true if you lash out at others for approaching you with their concerns.
What Do You Do Now?
Are you afraid that you may have a dependency or addiction to your pain meds? It’s nothing to be ashamed of as it happens to millions of Americans every year. The powerful effects the medication has on pain relief often make the user want more and more until the body develops a tolerance to the prescribed amount. Then the urge to find more drives you well beyond your actual pain. If you believe you’re dealing with an addiction or substance abuse problem, immediately contact your doctor and find out about suitable rehab centers for detox and further treatment. If you’re not addicted, but have been using prescription painkillers for a long time or fear you may develop an addiction, you can make these lifestyle changes right away:
- Try meditation or massages for relaxation and stress relief
- Talk with your doctor about alternative medications or treatments for your condition
- Find a diet that’s right for you that eliminates foods that inflame like sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods.
- Stretch frequently and exercise regularly to keep blood flowing, muscles from tensing up, and joints from getting stiff.
It may come as a surprise that the very medication prescribed to help you can also hurt you, however, like all things in life, too much of anything can be harmful to your health. If you believe you’re going overboard with your meds and are showing signs of prescription medication abuse, you need to address the matter. Talk with your doctor, find alternate methods for coping with your pain, and if necessary, work with a rehab center to safely detox.