The Effects Of Opioid Painkiller Abuse Are Impacting The Entire Nation
The ongoing opioid epidemic is affecting all reaches of the United States, so if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance painkiller addiction and/or overdose has affected you in some way.
Odds are that a family member or a close friend or coworker may be caught up in painkiller abuse or dependence. Either you’re not sure if that’s true at this point, or you already know it is and you’re looking for solutions on their behalf.
Either way, you’ve come to the right place. A majority of our clients are dealing with painkiller addiction within the family, and our mission is to help them better understand this dilemma and provide expert direction in their search for effective treatment.
Here, we’ll get into the common signs of painkiller addiction and then the necessary course of treatment for opioid users – including how to see if insurance coverage is available for addiction treatment.
The Short and Long-Term Effects of Opioid Abuse
Painkiller use can lead to many unpleasant effects in the short and long term. These drugs relieve pain by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, which control pain, pleasure and movement. Most painkillers produce a sense of well-being, if not euphoria.
Addiction can come easily, because users can become physically and psychologically dependent on painkillers, rather than just one or the other. Those who misuse these drugs are typically chasing the sense of euphoria that can arise.
Taking too high of a dose of painkillers or in a nonmedical way can lead to side effects such as:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mental confusion
- Loss of motor function
Long-term painkiller use can alter the body and lead to a litany of negative physical, emotional and social effects. Here are just a few:
- Liver/kidney failure or disease
- Weakened immunity
- Cardiovascular complications
- Drastic behavior changes
- Frequent anger or rage
- Low self-esteem
- Isolation from friends and family
- Damaged relationships
- Death via overdose or toxicity
Spotting the Signs of Opioid Painkiller Abuse
If you’re trying to determine if your loved one is abusing or addicted to painkillers, look for the following outwardly signs (in addition to the side effects listed above):
- Mood swings or behavior shifts, usually involving episodes of anger, anxiety or hostility
- Using higher doses of the painkiller than prescribed or beyond the recommended span of the prescription
- Frenzied attempts to obtain additional prescriptions or black-market versions of the drug
- Decline in work, school or social performance
- Isolating oneself from friends, family and social activities
- Changes in personal hygiene and eating habits
Most Common Types of Painkillers
You may have heard the terms “opiate” and “opioid,” so let’s quickly go over the difference. An opiate is naturally-occurring, pain-relieving drug that come from the opium poppy. Opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic versions of the same class of drugs. The medical community and the mass media now commonly use “opioids” as the preferred term for all drugs in this class, whether natural or synthetic.
Opioid painkillers come in many names and strengths. Here are a few brand or generic names you might recognize:
- OxyContin (oxycodone)
Although there are other types of pain-relieving medication, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, opioids such as the ones listed above are generally what people are referring to when talking about “painkillers.” After all, opioids pose the bigger threat of addiction, and they’re connected with the rising number of drug overdoses in the country.
In fact, roughly 20,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. were tied to prescription painkillers in 2015, with almost another 13,000 tied to heroin overdose. (Heroin, as you may know, is a naturally-occurring, illegal drug in the opioid class.) Also worth noting is nearly half a million Americans entered treatment with painkillers cited as their main substance of abuse in 2014.
No matter whether legitimately prescribed or illegally obtained, opioids pose serious, sometimes fatal consequences. It makes for one of the most pressing issues in the U.S. today, and it has drawn the attention of The White House, Congress and state legislatures.
Opioid ‘Detox’ Drugs: Methadone and Suboxone
Many detox facilities and treatment centers prescribe drugs such as methadone or Suboxone to help patients wean off opioids. The problem is both of these medications are opioids, too. This means patients can become addicted to the drug that is supposed to help end their addiction altogether.
Yes, neither drug produces the sense of euphoria that many other opioids do. However, in some cases, especially with methadone, people will continue to take their “detox” drug for years.
Learn more about methadone and Suboxone by clicking on either option below:
Addiction Treatment Recommendations for Opioid Painkiller Recovery
Professional detox treatment is almost always required when it comes to painkiller addiction. Toxins have built up in the body over time, and undergoing medical supervision is highly advised during the painkiller withdrawal phase, as there is a risk of death during detox.
We recommend looking for a longer-term detox program when you or a loved one is ready to break a dependence on painkillers. We also recommend seeking inpatient treatment beyond the detox phase, rather than going straight to outpatient care. The optimal destination for treatment should be across state or out of state. A neutral location helps patients avoid the people and places back home that trigger substance use.
Finding a treatment center that offers long-term inpatient care is also advised. Ideally, the staff should have the ability to customize the treatment plan to the recovery needs of you or your loved one.
The best types of therapy for overcoming painkiller addiction include:
- Individual counseling
- Clinical techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Group therapy
- Family and/or couples therapy
- Alternative/holistic therapies (yoga, meditation, art therapy, etc.)
- Physical fitness
- Adventure or experiential therapy
The treatment center you choose should offer a robust aftercare plan as well – with alumni activities, opportunities to keep contact with the staff, and access to at least some level of ongoing counseling. Opioid addiction isn’t easy to break, so choosing the right place and right course of treatment will make the difference between staying sober and relapsing.
Expert Assistance in Your Treatment-Seeking Journey
Opioid addiction affects each person differently, which is why a course of action for treatment and recovery should be just as individualized. To overcome addiction and to build a life of sobriety, you should seek a treatment program takes into account the root cause of the addiction and any mental health issues that need to be addressed.
To better understand the painkiller detox, treatment and recovery options available to you – and how insurance could cover the treatment – look no further than Addiction Treatment Services. We’re here to inform. We’re here to help.