Prescription Pain Killer Addiction: The Problem
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2009 there were 7 million abusers of prescription drugs. The majority of this abuse was from prescriptions. Teens typically obtain these prescriptions from family or friends. The number of fatal prescription drug poisonings has more than tripled since 1999. In 2003, 10% of 12th graders reported using Vicodin. (National Institute on Drug Abuse’s 2003 Monitoring the Future survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.)
I’ve seen many adults who began using prescription medications for a medical problem such as back pain, only later to become addicted to the medication. Others began experimenting in high school only to find they could not stop using. Finally, I see many patients wondering if they have an addiction. They can’t stop their medication, but they have never been addicts in the past nor are they experiencing addictive behavior.
Top 10 Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction
1. You doctor shop-almost a sure sign of addiction.
2. You are using more medication than prescribed by your doctor. This can sometimes be a sign of inadequate pain relief. However, if you have been previously stable on a dose of narcotics for pain and are increasing the dose over time, this is cause for concern.
3. You miss or are late to school/work/family responsibilities to use of obtain drugs.
4. You go to dangerous areas, deal with dangerous people to obtain medication. Actively seeking narcotics in dangerous situations is usually a good sign of addiction.
5. You pawn items in your home and use the money for pills-another almost sure sign of addiction.
6. You spend a lot of time during the day planning, obtaining, and fearful of running out of the narcotic.
7. People you know think you are using too much medication. When you are confronted, it causes defensiveness and arguments.
8. You use other peoples prescriptions, including your spouse’s medications. Individuals with addiction see little to no problem with sharing pills with others.
9. You use pills even when it is causing you problems such as falls, blackouts, car accidents.
10. You have problems with other drugs. If you already have an addiction to alcohol or other drugs, you are at great risk of developing one with narcotics.
Avoid Pain Killer Addiction
Narcotic medications have been a miracle for people with severe pain. However, with the increase in availability of these medications has come more problems with addiction. The first way to avoid pain killer addiction is to only use narcotics under the care of one Physician. Having multiple prescriptions from different Physicians prevents adequate monitoring. Always discuss any dosage change with your physician.
The next way to avoid trouble with narcotics is to talk with your doctor about alternative treatments for chronic pain. The medical community has been moving away from long-term use of narcotics for two reasons: we are finding it does not help chronic pain in the long run for many, and because of the problems with addiction.
Pain Killer Addiction Signs Recap
There are many signs of pain killer addiction. Probably the easiest to spot by others is seeing over-sedation and the person denies any problem. Other important signs are doctor shopping, increasing your dose to excessive levels over time, and having family, social, and job problems from the narcotic. Be sure to periodically discuss with you doctor getting off narcotics and if this would be the right choice for you. Long-term use can prove to be more harmful than helpful.