People tend to consider prescription painkillers an inherently “safe” drug, because when used properly, they’re legal. But even when used as directed, painkillers can still negatively affect your body and lead to addiction.
So why is painkiller abuse becoming increasingly common? Painkillers are a form of opioids. And opioids are highly addictive, meaning the risk of abuse is high. That’s why painkillers are typically only prescribed when other treatments and pain medications don’t work.
Painkillers: Signs of Addiction
Since there is a “right way” to take prescription painkillers, the line between proper use and abuse can be a little harder to draw. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when determining if you might be addicted.
- Am I taking my medication as prescribed? Doing things like skipping doses so you can take more later and intensify effects is a classic sign of abuse.
- Am I noticing changes in my personality? Not feeling like yourself? It’s common for those who abuse prescription painkillers to have a significant and noticeable change in behavior.
- Am I getting pills from anyone other than my doctor? If you’re turning to anyone other than your doctor to try and obtain pills (friends, the street, etc.), that’s another classic sign of abuse and addiction.
Side Effects of Prescription Painkiller Abuse
How painkiller use can affect your physical health (even when used correctly):
- Compromised Immune System. Immediately upon taking painkillers, your body’s ability to fight off infection weakens. With no proven way to boost immune function, the best way to manage this side effect is to stop taking painkillers immediately.
- The Stomach and Intestines. Painkillers are well-known for causing severe constipation. This can set in only a day or two after use begins and can cause abdominal distention and bloating, as well as more serious side effects such as hemorrhoids and bowel obstruction.
- Increased Pain. As crazy as it may seem, painkillers can actually intensify pain in some people. People who experience this side effect are either transitioned to a different drug or weaned off painkillers altogether.
- Hormone Levels. Use of painkillers often causes low levels of testosterone or estrogen (the male and female sex hormones), which may result in erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, fatigue, hot flashes, menstrual irregularities, weight gain and depression. And hormone imbalance can lead to more serious complications, such as infertility and osteoporosis.
Detoxing from Painkillers
Because of the strength of prescription painkillers, an individual can become physically dependent without actually being addicted. This means that even if someone is taking their medications as prescribed, it’s possible that they will suffer the same physical withdrawal symptoms as someone who is addicted. Withdrawal symptoms related to painkiller addiction include:
- Muscle aches
- Increased heart rate
Above all it’s important to keep in mind that if you’re experiencing these withdrawal symptoms and showing some of the classic signs of abuse outlined above, you might be suffering from addiction and need some help in controlling your use.
Thinking of trying to stop taking painkillers on your own? Read this.
Painkiller Addiction Treatment at Cycles of Change
If you think you might have a problem with prescription painkillers, contact Cycles of Change Recovery Services today. Our addiction recovery center in California is designed to help you gain the knowledge, courage, and determination you need to maintain a drug-free lifestyle so you can flourish as a productive and functioning member of your family and society. From day one each step, each treatment program will be created around you and your individual needs to ensure you reach your goal of recovery. Facing your addiction alone can be overwhelming. We’re here to help. Fill out this form or call us today at 9494847451