Painkiller Addiction in Student Athlete

The Painkiller High School Problem: How Injuries Aren’t the Only Risk in Athletics

High school is one of the most important times in our lives. It is a time of learning, growth, and opportunity, and shapes us for the rest of our lives. There are few things shape us as much as school sports, which teach high school students to work in teams and build relationships.

While the benefits of playing high school sports are many, there are also risks involved. The main risk is being injured, which may lead to an even more deadly risk: addiction to painkillers. In this article, we’ll walk you through what painkillers are, why high school athletes chase the painkiller high, and how young athletes can avoid addiction.

Painkillers: What Are They?

Painkillers are a class of prescription medication called opiates. Opiates come from the opium plant and work by mimicking the pain-reducing chemicals in your brain called endorphins. Endorphins reduce stress and pain and create a feeling of well-being.

Opiates act like endorphins because connect to the same places in your brain and create a sense of euphoria, energy, or well-being. Opiates are powerful because they cause a strong intoxicating effect and are addictive.

Common painkiller drugs include morphine, codeine, and Oxycontin. These drugs are for patients who have suffered an injury and are suffering from intense pain.

The Painkiller High: Dangers for Student-Athletes

So why are painkillers so dangerous for high school athletes? The first reason that painkillers are so dangerous for student-athletes is the potency of these drugs. Painkillers are very easy to overdose on based on their high potency.

Over 68% of overdoses in the United States are from painkillers and with over 130 Americans dying from opiate overdoses per day, the threat is real.

Student-athletes are more likely to use painkillers than others. High school athletes are already more likely to use illegal drugs than students who don’t play sports, which may be due to the stress of performing.

But high school athletes are even more likely to sustain an injury at some point in their sports career. These injuries can be serious, like a broken leg or torn ligament, and need more time to heal and pain management techniques.

Student-athletes are often given a prescription for these painkillers when they suffer an injury. While the painkillers reduce pain in the short term, some students start using the pills to get high or get addicted while managing their pain.

Consequences of Painkiller Abuse

The first and most obvious consequence of abusing painkillers is an overdose. Painkiller overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Drug users who don’t die from an opiate overdose may suffer from brain damage or organ damage due to lack of oxygen, which may last for a lifetime.

Painkiller abuse can also affect the digestive system of users. Painkillers make the bowels slow down, which leads to constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

The most dangerous consequences of painkiller abuse are an increase in use and using more dangerous drugs. Because painkillers are so addictive and powerful, they lead to addiction and an increased tolerance for the drug. This is dangerous because it causes the user to take more pills to get the same high, which leads to overdoses, serious financial issues, and crime.

Heroin Abuse

When addicts either can’t afford more painkillers or their prescription runs out, they turn to a cheaper drug that is easier to get: heroin. Heroin is an illegal opiate that is usually sold as a powder or resin, which is then smoked, snorted, or injected into the body. It is cheap, easy to get, and very strong,

Heroin is dangerous because the potency isn’t consistent and different things are added to it to make it stronger. Fentanyl is one of the strongest prescription painkillers on the planet and is added to heroin to increase the potency. This has lead to a sharp increase in overdose deaths from opiates.

Avoiding Painkiller Addiction in Student-Athletes

There’s not much you can do to prevent student-athletes from getting injured. But there are many steps you can take to make sure that young athletes don’t become addicted to painkillers.

The first step you can take is to make sure that your student-athlete isn’t prescribed painkillers in the first place. Painkillers help manage pain but there are other ways to reduce pain.

Anti-Inflammatories

Over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen and aspirin reduce inflammation and pain. They are hard to overdose on, aren’t addictive, and are easy to find.

R.I.C.E

R.I.C.E stands for the four steps of recovery: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Resting the injured body part, icing the injury, compressing the injury with wraps, and elevating the injury above your heart reduces pain and increases recovery.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help reduce the pain from longterm or recurring injuries. It also prevents injuries in the future by strengthening joints and the muscles surrounding them.

Management

Making sure to supervise your young athlete’s painkiller prescription is also important. If your student-athlete has a painkiller prescription, make sure that they take the right amount and don’t have access to the pills.

You can also make sure that the prescription is appropriate for their injury. If the pain won’t last more than a couple of days, then that is how long the prescription should last for. If the pain takes longer to go away, make sure that the doctor has a plan to reduce the use of painkillers over the course of recovery.

Protect Student-Athletes from Addiction

Now that you know a little more about the use of painkillers in high school sports, you can educate student-athletes about why a painkiller high is so dangerous. The only way to stop addiction is by educating people, and that starts with spreading the word.

If you have any questions about opiate addiction, treatment, and recovery, please visit our blog.

References

Percocet Abuse and Addiction

Percocet Abuse and Addiction: A Recovery Guide

The opioid crisis has shaken the United States in recent years. While there are many prescription drugs to blame, there is one that bears more responsibility than others.

With more than 53 million prescriptions of oxycodone every year, there is no question that drugs like Percocet play a major role in the rise of addiction rates.

Let’s talk about Percocet addiction, its dangers, and what you can do about it.

What is Percocet?

Percocet is the brand name for the two pain-relieving drugs known as oxycodone and acetaminophen. While acetaminophen is in over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol, oxycodone is an opiate.

You have likely heard plenty of conversations on the news or among friends about the opioid epidemic in recent years. This drug is one of the key offenders.

While Percocet uses a smaller amount of oxycodone drugs like Oxycontin, it still leads to addiction, makes you crave a stronger high, and can lead to using stronger drugs like heroin.

How It Works

With the pain-relieving benefits of opiates and the high number of prescriptions given in the U.S., you may be curious to know exactly what it does.

Opioids look like chemicals in your brain and body that attach to tiny parts on nerve cells called opioid receptors. These receptors can slow breathing, stop coughing and reduce feelings of pain.

The Risks

While many believe that this drug gets overprescribed, the drug clearly serves a medical purpose for millions of people.

Unfortunately, because of the pain-relieving effects that most other drugs can’t match, opioids will remain on the market for some time.

There are safer drugs that relieve pain, but many of them don’t work as well. This leads many to seek Percocet without understanding the risks. Let’s talk about the risks of this drug that is selling in massive volumes.

Side Effects

All drugs come with side effects, but these effects aren’t equal. Common side effects of Percocet include nausea, drowsiness, and lightheadedness.

Some of the more serious side effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Decreased perception of pain

Because of these side effects, you should never use this type of medication before driving or operating machinery.

Addiction

Oxycodone is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the U.S. because of its addictive properties.

If the side effects of the medication weren’t bad enough, once you form a dependency, withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Shaking
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Profuse sweating
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to feel pleasure

While these withdrawal symptoms are terrifying, the alternative of continued use is far worse.

This is an especially scary drug considering that Percocet is one of the weakest forms of opioids, which gives plenty of room to move up to stronger substances.

In fact, 75% of heroin users reported that their first use of opioids was in the form of prescription medication.

Not only that, the rise of fentanyl use is getting higher, which is believed to be the most lethal drugs in history. Many people who move up to using heroin will still seek a more potent drug, and fentanyl is the final frontier.

Overdose

Pushing aside the use of heroin or other street drugs, overdosing on Percocet is still a likely scenario.

Opioid overdose interferes with your brain’s regulatory processes, which can slow or even stop your breathing, causing death.

When It is Time For Treatment

Most of us will know when it is time for somebody to get treatment, but many people struggling with addiction will need a helping hand.

If you or a loved one are suffering from Percocet abuse, the time for treatment is now. If you believe a loved one is abusing this medication, here are some signs.

How To Spot It

Once you have reason to suspect addiction and abuse, there are some key things to look for.

If your loved one is reporting improvement on their pain and still carrying the medicine with them everywhere or going to the doctor to refill their script, these are key behavioral signs.

If they are isolating themselves, lying about their whereabouts, or reporting that they feel depressed or hopeless while taking the medication, this may be all the information you need.

Other than behavioral indicators, other factors can include who is more susceptible to addiction. People struggling with mental health disorders such as PTSD or depression are far more likely to develop substance abuse issues.

If they fit enough of these criteria, it may be time to intervene. Find out how to do an intervention in the right way.

How To Seek Treatment

If you are in need of recovery, there is no time like the present to get started on the process. It can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Remember, there are 3 major steps to take once you have acknowledged the problem. First, you must seek treatment, then abstain from the substance, and then maintain that abstinence.

The last is the hardest part, as it is a lifelong battle. Just remember the alternative. The only way to get there is to start. Find out more about our services to help you get to a better life.

Next Steps

Percocet is a serious drug that you should take with the right amount of precaution. If you are being prescribed this medicine, take it only as needed and alert your doctor if you feel you are becoming dependent on it.

If you are struggling with a mental health disorder as well as an addiction to painkillers, learn more about dual diagnosis treatment to find out if it’s right for you.

References

prescription abuse

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Painkiller Addiction

It is no secret that painkillers have played a large role in the addiction rates in the U.S.

In fact, there are currently 58 opioid prescriptions every year for every 100 Americans.

If these are prescribed medications, what kind of damage can they do, and what can I do to help?

Let’s talk about prescription painkillers, their risks, and everything you need to know about them.

What Are Prescribed Painkillers?

Prescribed painkillers are drugs that are prescribed by a doctor for the sole purpose of relieving pain.

These drugs are not meant to treat or cure any disease or illness, but simply to mask pain. They can be prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, from a broken hand to alleviating pain after an operation.

These drugs involve the use of opium, which is a highly addictive compound that can impair judgment and motor functions.

These often lead to a very short-lived euphoria, and many people enjoy the feeling and feel a need to continue to relive it.

There are many risks involved with these types of medications, particularly with substance abuse, leading to other complications. Let’s talk about that.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Painkiller Addiction

Painkiller addictions are a serious problem and should be treated that way. You have likely heard stories of addictions from the media or from loved ones.

Painkillers can lead to serious health risks, especially when taken consistently or with high doses. Here are some of the facts.

1. Painkillers Can Lead To Other Addictions

This may sound obvious, but it is to a much higher extent than you would believe. People who are prescribed opioids are 19 times more likely to start using drugs like heroin.

In fact, urban injection drug users interviewed in 2008 and 2009 found that 86% had used pain relievers either medically or nonmedically prior to their heroin addiction.

2. Withdrawal Symptoms Are No Joke

After you use these medications for a while, the body can become dependant on it. Once the body has adapted to the presence of the substance, a higher dose may be needed to create the same effects.

After a while, once the body is fully dependant on the substance, quitting can cause some serious effects. Including insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and involuntary muscle spasms.

3. Side Effects Can Be Lethal

Overdoses are all too common in the US, and 68% of them involve the use of opioids.

One of the most serious risks with painkillers is the possibility of respiratory depression. High doses can cause breathing to slow down to the point that users die.

Some of the side effects you may encounter with these drugs include constipation, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, and decreased cognitive abilities.

While those are not fatal, they can certainly inhibit one’s ability to perform essential duties for their health. That can lead to malnourishment and other potentially fatal complications.

Not only that, day-to-day operations can be incredibly lethal while using these medications, like driving or operating machinery. If you are using these drugs, driving after use can put many people’s lives at risk.

Another serious risk of death with these medications is when they are mixed with other substances, including alcohol. Taking these medications for medical use should be used exclusively, and in the prescribed dosage, to avoid complications.

4. Symptoms Can Be Spotted

Visiting multiple doctors to get prescriptions for painkillers, social withdrawal, slurring speech, lying about whereabouts and activities, or stealing medication that has been prescribed to someone else.

These are all common indicators of painkiller addiction. If you know somebody who exhibits these behaviors, or if you exhibit them yourself, these are key signs of addiction.

If you are looking for physical symptoms, they will likely include dilated pupils, impaired coordination, and heavy perspiration.

If those symptoms fit the bill, then that person needs treatment. Find out how to do an intervention the right way to help a loved one.

5. These Prescriptions Are On The Rise

Since the year 2000, the number of opioid prescriptions in the US has increased by over 400%.

That is a troubling amount considering the rising addiction rates. If you are able to get through the pain with over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen, it may be a wise choice to choose that alternative.

6. Other Factors Can Influence Addiction

There are many co-occurring illnesses that often pair with substance abuse. People can be more susceptible to addiction when they are facing other mental health issues.

People suffering from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are far more likely to be a victim of substance abuse. People will look for non-medical ways to help ease their suffering.

Be transparent with your doctors about these pre-existing conditions before accepting addictive medications.

However, there is dual diagnosis treatment available for people struggling with addiction and mental illness.

7. Treatment Is Not The End

Unfortunately, many people who receive treatment will relapse, as addiction is very powerful. Between 40% and 60% of patients will abuse the drug again.

That shouldn’t stop you from trying. Yes, many do go back to substance abuse. However, that is only because treatment is not a cure.

Recovery is a lifelong process. The three main steps are seeking treatment, starting recovery, and maintaining abstinence. The latter is the longest and most difficult.

If a loved one has received treatment, do what you can to support them, as they will need a helping hand.

If you are maintaining your abstinence, seek out any support you can get and continue the progress you’ve made.

Next Steps

It is clear that the risks of these medications are incredibly serious, and should be treated with care.

If you have been prescribed a painkiller, make sure that you take the proper steps to avoid addiction.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to painkillers, please check out our admissions page and get the help that is needed today!

References:

pain pill addiction

What to Expect If You’re Experiencing Pain Pill Addiction

Did you know that more than 2 million Americans have either become dependent on or have become addicted to pain pills?

While pain pills help individuals manage legitimate cases of intolerable pain, they also fuel a dangerous addiction that has swept across the country.

Pain pill addiction is a very serious disease, and it is even more serious if you don’t realize that you have an addiction.

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing a pain pill addiction, please know that you are not alone. We are here to walk you through everything you need to know about pain pill addiction and what you can do to treat the addiction.

What is Pain Pill Addiction?

Pain pills are extremely beneficial to managing pain when prescribed by a doctor for a short amount of time. However, pain pills are highly addictive because they create a rush of euphoria by binding to the area of the brain that controls pain and emotions and then releasing a rush of dopamine, which is the feel-good hormone in the body. This euphoric high sensation is what can easily result in the misuse of painkillers.

But, believe it or not, there is a difference between being dependent on pain pills and being addicted to pain pills. If your body is dependent on pain pills, that means that you have built up a tolerance to your medication, which requires a higher dosage to help your body receive the same medical effect.

When you are addicted to pain pills, it is more than just building a physical tolerance to a drug. An addiction encompasses both physical and emotional addictions. This means that the pain pills are affecting who you are and they are beginning to take over your life.

An addiction to pain pills also means that the medication is starting to cause uncontrolled behaviors and problems in your daily life such as at work, at school or at home. Continuing to take pain pills despite these issues is where you start to cross the line into an addiction.

Symptoms of Pain Pill Addiction

Symptoms of a pain pill addiction include physical symptoms, behavioral, symptoms and psychological symptoms. If you have gone too far and are experiencing a pain pill addiction, you can expect the following symptoms.

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Sedation
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Itchy, flushed skin
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Death

People experience pain pill addiction symptoms based on their genetic makeup, how long they have been addicted to pain pills and the severity of their addiction.

Warning Signs That You are Developing a Pain Pill Addiction

Pain pill addiction does not come out of left field. If you pay attention, you can catch these addiction signs before it is too late. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the following warning signs, it is crucial that you see a doctor or rehab center to control your addiction before it is too late.

1. You’re Becoming Dependent on Pain Pills

While becoming dependent on pain pills doesn’t necessarily mean that you are addicted to pain pills, it is something that you should be conscious of. Becoming dependent on pain pills shows that you have been taking a lot of the medication and that your body is starting to need more and more to develop the same effect.

Once you cross that line and start taking more pain pills, you are becoming susceptible to a painkiller addiction and putting your body in a vulnerable situation. If you realize that you are becoming dependent on your pain pill prescription, take a step back and tell your doctor about your concerns. It might be time to focus on weaning yourself off of the drug or simply taking a break to focus on your health.

2. You Start to Take a Different Amount Than What Your Doctor Prescribed

Maybe you think that your doctor simply doesn’t understand your level of pain, and you think it is in your best interest to take more than what they prescribed you. Your doctor prescribed a specific amount of medication for a very specific reason, and that is to ensure that it relieves pain while preventing you from overwhelming your body and becoming addicted.

If you start to take a smaller dose so you can take more later on or stretch out the time between your dosage so you can take another pill before bed, you are taking your first steps toward an addiction. By trying to control your medications, it is showing that you are, in fact, not in control of yourself anymore. Your doctor knows best, and it is important to take your prescription exactly as it says.

3. You Find Yourself Thinking About Your Medication a Lot

If you find that you are often thinking about your pain pills throughout your day, you could be in danger of a painkiller addiction. You don’t have to necessarily be thinking about how bad you need your pain pills. Instead, this sign includes wondering about when you get to take your pain pills next, wondering if your dosage needs to be increased or constantly worrying about running out of your pain pills.

If you are counting down the seconds until you get to take your pain pills next, this can also be a sign that you are becoming addicted to your pain medication.

4. You Notice Changes in Your Behavior

Like we mentioned earlier, pain pills affect the reward area of your brain and cause a euphoric high. It is a bad sign if you notice that you are experiencing mood swings or even find yourself taking the drug specifically to put yourself in a better mood. It is also a bad sign if you notice you are in an unpleasant mood when you are not taking the drug as opposed to feeling like your normal self.

This is something that is often spotted by the other people around you because they are the ones who are seeing the changes from an outside perspective. If someone mentions to you that you might be having mood swings or they are noticing changes in your behavior, chances are they are just trying to help you.

5. You Notice Changes in Your Character

It is one thing for your mood to change frequently and for you to feel a euphoric rush when you take your pain pills and a sense of depression when you don’t take your pain pills. However, it is a whole new world when you start to notice changes in your character.

Do you find yourself asking other people to borrow money to pay for your habit? Have you started stealing from work because you don’t have enough money for your next refill? Do you find yourself stealing drugs from others or even just thinking about it? These are all huge red flags that need to be addressed and fixed.

6. You’re Defensive If Someone Talks to You About Your Pain Pills

If someone asks you about your prescription or your mood changes, you become angry and/or defensive. It is likely that if you are already experiencing mood swings because of your pain pills, but becoming angry or irrational when someone confronts you about your drugs is another red flag. If you perceive your drugs as a sensitive topic, maybe it is time that you seek help.

7. You Visit More Than One Doctor for Pain Pills

Do you find yourself “doctor shopping” or visiting more than one doctor just to get another prescription when your original doctor cut you off? Do you find yourself searching for doctors who are known to prescribe more pain pills than they should, otherwise known as “pill mills”?

If you are going out of your way to obtain more pain pills through a second doctor, it is not just a concern but also a risk. Remember earlier when we said that doctors prescribe medications specifically to reflect your pain level and vulnerability to become addicted? If you are taking a prescription from two different doctors at a time, they are unable to track your drug intake.

8. You Start Getting Pain Pills from Other Sources

You’ve tried everything to get more pain pills, even going to other doctors, but you just can’t get your hands on any more pills. This is when people start trying everything they can think of to get their fix.

Do you ask your friends for their pain pills? Maybe you are searching to buy them over the internet? Did you steal a doctor’s prescription pad to illegally write your own prescriptions? Do you steal pills out of other’s medicine cabinets or from a sick relative? Do you intentionally hurt yourself so you have to go to the hospital for another prescription?

9. Pain Pills are the Most Important Things in Your Life

Because pain pills are so highly addictive, it can be easy to forget your main responsibilities in life such as work, school, family, friends and your pets.

Do you find that your hobbies don’t necessarily matter to you anymore because you are so engulfed in your pain pills? Is your spouse complaining that you aren’t always attentive? Is your boss noticing that you aren’t giving your best work? If you find yourself focusing on pain pills as opposed to your responsibilities, you can be headed down a dark path.

What to Expect From a Pain Pill Addiction

These are all very serious signs of addiction, and if you find yourself or anyone you know going this far out of their way to receive pain pills, it is time to take the next step toward treating an addiction.

It is important to realize the long-term effects of a pain pill addiction. The following symptoms can take place if you do not receive help for your addiction:

  • Liver/kidney failure or disease
  • Weakened immunity
  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Drastic behavior changes
  • Frequent anger or rage
  • Paranoia
  • Low self-esteem
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Damaged relationships
  • Death via overdose or toxicity

Once you realize that you have an addiction, you can take your first steps toward an effective recovery. The withdrawal process for a pain pill addiction is quite intense if you just quit taking your pain pills. This is also known as going “cold turkey”.

The withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Low energy
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation

However, it is recommended that you participate in a drug detox treatment under your doctor’s supervision because there is a risk of death during detox due to the number of toxins in your body.

One way to do this is by participating in replacement therapy. This involves replacing your pain pills with Methadone or Suboxone under a doctor’s care. These drugs do not provide a euphoric high, so they are essentially teaching your body to live without the high while preventing the withdrawal symptoms that can persist if you go cold turkey.

However, replacement therapy is often perceived as contradicting because you are addressing your drug addiction with other drugs. Some people even stay on the replacement drugs for years.

Other forms of drug treatment can include:

  • Outpatient rehab
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Counseling
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Physical fitness
  • Alternative therapy (yoga and meditation)

The key is to find what works for you.

Treating a Pain Pill Addiction

Pain pill addiction is a very serious disease, and choosing the correct treatment plan is imperative in helping you achieve a sober lifestyle. Recovering from a pain pill addiction may sound intimidating, but it is important to realize that you are taking steps to develop a sober mind. It is also important to remember that you are not alone.

Here at Addiction Treatment Services, we want to help you better understand your dilemma and provide you with expert direction in your search for the most effective rehab center to fit your specific needs.

Don’t wait for you or your loved one’s pain pill addiction to get worse. Please feel free to reach out to us today if you have any questions about treatment, addiction or scheduling an intervention.

painkiller addiction symptoms

How to Tell if Someone is Addicted to Painkillers

Studies show that nearly 40 million American adults experience acute levels of pain. That accounts for more than 17% of the country’s total population.

Are you included in that number? What about someone you love?

If so, you might know that while prescription pain medication can provide much-needed relief in many cases, many kinds can also be highly addictive. This is the case whether you’re using them to treat an actual pain disease or are looking to experience the feelings of numbness and euphoria they provide.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reveals that around 54 million Americans have used narcotic painkillers for nonmedical reasons at least one time in their lives. In many cases, it only takes one time of using to catalyze dependency, leading down a dangerous and deadly road.

Sometimes, painkiller addiction symptoms are easy to detect. In other cases, they’re not as obvious. Today, we’re breaking down a few ways you can tell if you or someone you know needs to seek treatment for a painkiller addiction. Knowing the signs is the first step. Learning how to respond to them is the next.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

How Do Prescription Painkillers Work?

To understand why they’re so addictive, it’s helpful to learn a little about how prescription painkillers work in your body. Traditionally, when we perceive that we’re in pain, it’s because our nervous system is sending signals to our brain that we are hurt.

When someone uses painkillers, the medication blocks their nervous system from sending those signals. Instead, the drugs stimulate the portion of the brain associated with feeling pleasure. As such, not only do users feel immediate relief from physical aches and pains, but they’re often sent into a state of euphoria, as well.

In their most powerful form, prescription painkillers are called opioids. As the name implies, this class of drugs is made from compounds designed to act like opium.

Some of the most common kinds of opioid painkillers are oxycodone, morphine, methadone, hydrocodone, and meperidine. These painkillers can be sold under a range of trade names. They are also available in a myriad of forms, from tablets to pills to syrups.

When one becomes overly dependent on these painkillers, an addiction can form. The symptoms can range from minor to fatal and the scale can escalate quickly. Fortunately, there is a range of treatment options, from detoxification to inpatient rehab to help addicts get back on track.

What Are Some Painkiller Addiction Symptoms?

Remember that sense of euphoria that painkillers create? This feeling can be addictive, especially for people who are chasing relief from either physical or emotional stress.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve stepped over the line and have entered into painkiller addiction territory, you may not know where to turn. Or, maybe you’re starting to see a change in someone you love and are wondering if he or she might be misusing a painkiller prescription.

Either way, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at a few common signs that someone is fighting an addiction to pain pills.

1. Constantly Discussing Medication

It’s one thing to be concerned about taking your painkiller medication on a routine basis. Many prescriptions require that you take the pill at the same time each day to achieve the maximum effect.

Yet, do you notice that your loved one seems especially preoccupied with his or her medication? Do conversations center around how much medication they have and when their next dose should occur? Maybe you’ve found yourself obsessing over these details.

If so, this could be a sign of a painkiller addiction. Remembering to take pain-regulating medication should be only a small part of your day. The idea shouldn’t consume you, and if it does, it’s time to seek help.

2. Social Disengagement

One of the tell-tale signs that someone is addicted to painkillers is that they slowly lose interest in the things that used to be major parts of their life. Has your loved one stopped hanging in the usual social circles? Have work and social commitments fallen by the wayside?

Think of the hobbies they used to enjoy and the topics they used to talk about for hours on end. Do those same things bring them alive today, or are they going through the motions, never fully present in any conversation?

If the latter is true, it might be time to schedule an intervention. Disengagement is one of the first signs of an opioid addiction.

3. Less Alert Than Usual

It’s a scientific fact that we cannot function when don’t get enough sleep. As such, waking up tired in the morning can translate to getting a slow start to the day, having a sluggish time at work, and experiencing exhaustion by dinnertime.

Imagine feeling that way most of the time. Those who cannot stop taking prescription painkillers know that state of mind all too well. Why? One of the top painkiller addiction signs is drowsiness.

Yet, this kind of drowsiness isn’t the type you can cure by sleeping in the next day. Rather, it leads to a slew of cognitive and physical disadvantages that can leave you feeling like you’re permanently in a cloud.

One of the offshoots of this tiredness is memory loss. Does your loved one have a hard time remembering where they put their keys? Is he or she failing to show up on time for appointments or get-togethers? This might be a sign of forgetfulness associated with painkiller-induced drowsiness.

Moreover, the addict might also exhibit signs of concentration loss. If your loved one has a difficult time maintaining eye contact while you’re conversing or appears to be thinking about something else the entire time, it could be that their sense of focus is off.

4. Slowed Reflexes

Most non-addicts can whip their heads around quickly when they hear their name called from across the room. They can leap to their feet when it’s time to go somewhere. They know how to respond when there’s danger around.

However, addicts may experience slowed reflexes, meaning that it takes them longer than usual to react in certain situations.

There’s a reason prescription painkillers come with a warning that those taking them should not drive a car or operate any form of heavy machinery. When we’re slow to gauge how we should act, move, or think, it can put us in great danger.

5. Cutting Back on Personal Hygiene

Have you noticed that your loved one has let his beard go? Has she failed to comb or wash her hair in weeks? Have you been picking up on excessive body odor when you’re together? Though these aren’t always pain pill addiction symptoms, addicts often throw personal hygiene by the wayside in their attempt to search down more medication.

In short, they’re consumed by getting as much of the drug as possible, and anything that doesn’t actively support that goal comes in second. As people sink further into addiction cycles, keeping up with showering, shaving, and cleansing is often too much to handle, so those tasks are shelved for the short-term.

6. Failed Attempts to Quit

When our predetermined medication schedule is up, it’s time to throw the pill bottle away, with no refills unless deemed necessary by a medical professional. Yet, addicts can’t complete this step. They may try multiple times to quit, only to find they’re unable to follow through with even their best intentions.

If you or your loved one cannot cut down on the use of these medications, this could signal an addiction. This is also true if you’re constantly trying to score more of the medication from others, or going around your doctor’s orders. If you’ve ever tried to taper off the medication in the past only to find you’re back to your old ways by the end of the week, you could be setting yourself up for a long road toward recovery.

7. Doctor Shopping

Have you heard your loved one complain that one doctor isn’t giving them the treatment they’re looking for? Have you watched as they’ve hopped from one medical office to the next, looking for someone who will give them a higher dosage or more of the painkiller than they actually require?

If so, this practice is known as doctor shopping. In short, if a doctor won’t prescribe you any more medication out of concern, those who are doctor shopping will search until they find another one who will give you the prescription. This does more than damage your body. It could hurt your pocketbook, as well.

In some instances, there are doctors who overprescribe their pills to turn a profit. Known as “pill mills,” these professionals will often price-gauge customers, especially addicts, knowing they’ll pay any price it takes to get their hands on the drugs they need.

8. Defensiveness

No one loves talking about their addiction, especially if the person initiating the conversation is someone they love and trust. Thus, don’t be surprised if you’re met with intense denials and defensiveness the first time you bring up the issue.

Before you do so, however, listen to how defensive the person already is. Are any inquiries about pain medication quickly shot down? If you’re met with immediate pushback or irritation when you so much as gently ask how they’re feeling, consider this jumpiness and anxiety as one of the painkiller addiction signs.

It might take a little time to coax the addict into talking about the issue, but you shouldn’t have to be worried about having your head bitten off at the first mention of a problem.

9. Deception to Obtain

Even the most wholesome person could stoop to stealing if an opioid addiction becomes strong enough. When doctor shopping runs its course, an addict often has no other choice but to seek access to the drug by other means.

This might mean stealing or using someone else’s prescription medication in its place. In some cases, it might also mean switching from traditional painkillers to harder drugs, including heroin. If you find that the person is acting jumpy, anxious or otherwise uncomfortable in public, it might be that this ongoing path of dishonesty is taking its toll.

10. Taking a Higher Dosage

The more we take a medication, the more our bodies get used to it. As such, we’re forced to take more to continue feeling the same way we did at first.

If you’re reaching for a higher dose of painkiller medication every time you can, you’ve likely reached a point where your original prescription isn’t working anymore. Your body has grown accustomed to having those chemicals and has adapted accordingly. That’s why it might take four pills when it once took two to curb the pain.

Though it’s natural to develop an intolerance to certain medications, if your loved one is constantly upping their prescription, it’s time to give it a second look.

Kicking Your Painkiller Addiction Today

Though it may start out innocently enough, misusing prescription painkillers can wreak havoc on your physical capabilities, mental wellbeing, and financial security.

If you’re struggling with these painkiller addiction symptoms or know someone who is, you know that this can be a confusing and overwhelming time. It’s difficult to discern who to trust and where to turn in these situations.

That’s where we come in.

Our team of experts will listen to your concerns and help you develop a proactive plan of treatment. Then, we’ll put you in touch with treatment and intervention service providers that can give you the help you need. The best part? We’ll work with you every step of the way to make sure we match you with providers that are within your insurance coverage.

Overcoming painkiller addiction can be a long road. Yet, it’s one that no one has to walk alone. Contact us today and let’s take the first step toward recovery together.

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Direct from the Doctor: 5 Types of Prescription Drugs Commonly Abused

More than 21.5 million people suffer from some sort of substance abuse disorder. And while most of us might immediately think of “drug addiction” as being synonymous with addiction to alcohol or illicit substances like heroin or cocaine, the fact is that millions of people abuse drugs that are legal with a doctor’s prescription.

People can begin using these drugs innocently and for their intended purpose: painkillers after having surgery, anti-anxiety medications for a panic disorder, a stimulant to help with studying, etc. However, these medications with practical purposes can easily be misused and abused to get high.

These can even lead people to use illegal drugs: one study found that 86% of intravenous drug users surveyed had used prescription pain relievers before resorting to heroin use.

But, not all prescription drugs lead to addiction. Which types of prescription drugs, then, are most commonly abused? Which prescriptions should you be wary of if you or a loved one has a history of substance abuse?

Keep reading to learn about five of the most common prescription medications that are misused and abused.

1. Opioid Pain Relievers

Opioid pain relievers are number one on this list for a reason. The opioid addiction epidemic in the United States has reached an all-time high: 115 people die from opioid overdoses every single day.

While these overdoses aren’t necessarily from prescription opiates, many could be. As we said earlier, a majority of intravenous drug users who abuse opioids like heroin began their opioid use with a prescription for opioid pain relievers.

“Opioid pain relievers” refer to a few different types of medications. The most common include:

  • Oxycontin
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin
  • Dilaudid
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Demerol

These are all legally obtainable with a doctor’s prescription.

Common Uses for Opioids

These types of opioids are a type of narcotic pain reliever. They’re often prescribed to patients in intense pain like those who have just had surgery or who suffer from chronic pain conditions.

How Opioids Work

As we just explained, opioids are a type of narcotic. They work by attaching to pain receptors in the brain. This induces your body to send out pain-relieving chemicals, slow down your breathing, and release chemicals that make you feel relaxed and calm.

Specifically, they induce the release of massive amounts of dopamine and other endorphins, which are known as “pleasure” or “feel good” chemicals. They’re naturally released when we do things that feel good: eat cake, complete a hard task, kiss our significant other, etc.

Opioids trigger the unnatural release of dopamine and other endorphins, which makes us feel good while also dulling pain and helping us relax.

Opioid Abuse

There are a few reasons why opioids often lead to addiction, abuse, and misuse.

First of all, opioids make you feel good. If you’re in immense amounts of pain, they can dull that pain and make you feel better. This can lead to overuse and misuse in order to dull any type of pain at any time.

Chronic pain and intense pain are also huge motivators. Imagine being in horrible pain 24/7 and only getting relief from these drugs. Is it a shock that people like that become addicted in order to finally get some relief?

Opioids also trigger the release of dopamine and endorphins that, as we went over earlier, make you feel good. People come to like the “dopamine high” they get when they take opioid pain medications, which can lead to addiction.

Another issue with opioid pain relievers is that over time, you’ll notice a couple long-term effects that can help lead to addiction and overuse:

  1. Increased tolerance
  2. Decreased natural endorphin production

As you take opioids, you will build up a tolerance to them. This means that you will need to take higher and higher doses of the medication in order to feel the effects.

This can lead to overuse of the medication, as well as resorting to crushing, snorting, or injecting it against the directions of the prescription.

This effect is compounded with the fact that as you take opioids, your natural endorphin production and release will decline. This means you’ll feel sad, depressed, and feel more intense pain more easily since your body won’t be producing the chemicals that make you feel good naturally.

This will push users to use more of the opioids in order to get that “high” or even to feel normal.

Opioid Withdrawal

Feeling high, dulling pain, an increased tolerance, and the highly addictive nature of opioid pain medications are some of the main reasons for opioid addiction. However, the intensity of the withdrawal can also be a factor that prevents people from getting clean and stopping opioid abuse.

You’ll experience withdrawal symptoms even after minimal use of opioids. The more frequent or large the doses you take, the more intense the withdrawal will be. If not done properly, opioid withdrawal can be painful, dangerous, and lethal.

2. Xanax

Xanax is a type of medication classified as “benzodiazepines” or “benzos.” Other commonly abused benzodiazepines include:

  • Ativan
  • Valium
  • Klonopin

These are all commonly abused types of prescription drugs, but Xanax is the most common and the most well-known of these medications.

Common Uses for Xanax

Xanax is an oral medication used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, panic disorders, and anxiety disorders. While it is effective in treating anxiety symptoms and these disorders, it’s a highly addictive medication that is usually prescribed for only short periods of time.

How Xanax Works

Xanax and other benzos work by interacting with a neurotransmitter in our brains called “GABA.” GABA is naturally produced by our brain and is responsible for helping us feel calm and relaxed.

However, those with anxiety disorders or panic disorders often have issues regulating GABA, which results in heightened anxiety and issues with calming down during anxiety or panic attacks.

That’s where Xanax and other benzos come in. When you take Xanax, the drug will bind to receptors in the brain that will stimulate an increased release of GABA. This will produce the following effects:

  • Reduction in anxious thoughts/panic attacks
  • Feelings of calmness and relaxation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed brain/nervous system

While these effects can be helpful for those suffering from anxiety disorders, it can also be easily abused and become dangerous if not used as directed.

Xanax Abuse

We mentioned earlier that Xanax and other benzos are usually prescribed as a short-term solution. That’s because this medication is extremely addictive, meaning users quickly develop a dependency.

So while many are directed to take low doses for a short amount of time, the relaxing effects and the benefits of the drug often lead to them taking higher doses for longer periods of time against prescription directions (or without a prescription altogether).

This can be dangerous: it can lead to a benzodiazepine addiction and even an overdose. Benzos cause your brain and nervous system to slow down. If you overdose, you could stop breathing or experience organ failure.

Many also abuse Xanax recreationally without ever getting a prescription to feel the calming and relaxing effects similar to drinking alcohol.

Xanax Withdrawal

Like opioid medications, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be intense, which is why many find detoxing and getting clean to be so difficult.

You can experience:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Delerium
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

 In fact, benzodiazepine withdrawal is more dangerous than opioid withdrawal.

3. Adderall

Adderall is a type of stimulant. Stimulants encompass a wide range of drugs including caffeine and cocaine. However, Adderall is a commonly prescribed stimulant that is, unfortunately, commonly misused.

Common Uses for Adderall

Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It can also be used to treat narcolepsy.

How Adderall Works

As aforementioned, Adderall is a type of stimulant. It works to stimulate the brain, specifically by increasing the amount of two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine, in the brain. This leads to the following effects:

  • Increased attention span
  • Alertness
  • Improved focus
  • Improved control of behavioral issues

It can also have certain side effects. These include:

  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Feeling “awake” and lively
  • Inability to sleep/become tired

This medication is an excellent treatment method for ADHD and narcolepsy, but it can be misused by those with and without a prescription.

Adderall Abuse

Perhaps the most common misuse and abuse of this drug is in high schools and on college campuses. Students will take Adderall without a prescription in order to enhance their ability to study for longer periods of time and focus on schoolwork with a higher intensity than they normally would.

Others use Adderall as a party drug: a stimulant that can keep them up all night, give them a “hyper high”. Common signs of those abusing Adderall are:

  • Behaving more excitably than usual
  • Talkative/talking quickly
  • Never tired/not sleeping
  • Loss of appetite

Because Adderall affects neurotransmitters in the brain, abuse and misuse can lead to permanent changes in brain chemistry. It can also lead to heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

In order to get a stronger high, some people inject or snort the medication, or even just take more than directed by their doctor. This can lead to a potentially lethal overdose.

4. Ambien

Ambien is a brand name sleeping medication classified as a “sedative-hypnotic” medication.

Other sedative-hypnotics drugs similar to Ambien include:

  • Methaqualone
  • Placidyl
  • Noctec
  • Lunesta

Sedative-hypnotics are often types of benzodiazepines (like Xanax we discussed earlier) or barbiturates (the next drug on this list). Ambien, however, is neither a benzodiazepine or a barbiturate drug.

Common Uses for Ambien

As we stated earlier, the main reason for an Ambien prescription is as a sleep aid for those suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia.

How Ambien Works

Ambien works by affecting your brain function. Essentially, it slows down your brain, which helps you relax and fall asleep.

Ambien, when used as directed, will help insomniacs sleep better and through the night. However, there are side effects that you should be aware of. These include:

  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Bizarre and vivid dreams

There are also reports of people doing things while on Ambien that they have no memory of later. People have reported having sex, cooking, driving, online shopping, having conversations/making phone calls, sleepwalking, and sleep driving.

Ambien Abuse

Ambien isn’t as addictive as the other prescription medications on this list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t abused. People will take Ambien in order to hallucinate, have strange dreams, and feel the “trip” of being on Ambien.

However, this can be dangerous. People who misuse Ambien can seriously injure themselves and others without even realizing it when they “wake up” the next day.

5. Barbiturates

Lastly, we have a class of drugs called barbiturates that include Nembutal, Phenobarbital, and Seconal. These drugs work in a very similar way to both benzodiazepines and sedative-hypnotics: they’re all depressants that having calming effects on the brain.

Common Uses for Barbiturates

Barbituates can be used to treat a number of disorders, including:

  • Stress/anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Seizure disorders

Barbituates can also treat headaches and other pain conditions.

How Barbiturates Work

Like we said earlier, barbiturates work in a very similar way to benzodiazepines. It’s a type of depressant that slows the brain and the nervous system, producing a calming and relaxing effect.

Barbiturate Abuse

The same reasons why people abuse benzos applies here: the calming and relaxing effect of the medication feels nice and produces a sort of calming high. Tolerance and dependency can develop, which can lead to addiction, overuse, and overdose.

Barbiturate Withdrawal

Barbiturate withdrawal is as dangerous as benzodiazepine withdrawal. It can be lethal if done incorrectly, which is why it’s often safest to detox at an addiction treatment facility instead of on your own.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • High fever

You can die from withdrawal, so please do it safely and with medical supervision.

Types of Prescription Drugs Commonly Abused: Wrapping Up

These are just 5 of the hundreds of types of prescription drugs that can be misused and abused to the point of addiction. If you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of addiction to any of these or other prescription drugs, you should get help right away to avoid permanent and dangerous damage.

Contact us for more information. You can also look over our various levels of care to find a treatment program that will work best for your situation.

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Overdose Patients Still Getting Drugs From Doctors

intmedPatients who are admitted into the Emergency Room for prescription painkiller overdoses are often still given prescriptions for their drug of choice well after they have had near fatal problems with pills. This is likely due to the fact that ER doctors very rarely communicate with the patient’s prescribing doctor. This significant oversight has caused many patients to continue abusing prescription painkillers and risk further overdose. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine came to this conclusion after investigating information provided by insurance companies. The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Seventy percent of patients who overdosed were getting their drugs from the same doctor who prescribed the narcotic before the overdose…This signals a problem with the health system, but I don’t think it necessarily fingers doctors as being bad doctors,” explained Dr. Marc Larochelle, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Doctors who are treating patients that are prescribed prescription painkillers cannot rely on them disclosing the fact that they overdosed. Those who are addicted are not likely to admit to this for fear that their drugs will be taken away or they will be forced into treatment. In order to effectively handle this problem, Larochelle says that Emergency Room doctors and prescribing doctors have to communicate.

This is especially important because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information stating that prescription drug overdoses are at an all-time high. According to reports, 47,000 people in the United States passed away from drug overdoses, that is a 14% increase from the year before. These numbers are only projected to increase if doctors are not aware that their patients are being treated for overdoses from the pills that are being prescribed.

As the prescription painkiller problem continues to grow, medical doctors are being cautioned about perpetuating the problem by prescribing the drugs to people who abuse them, however the problem may be better addressed if more information was shared, such as with prescription drug monitoring databases. Emergency Room doctors, patients, loved ones and other medical professionals need to maintain communication for the safest prescribing practices and to help minimize future overdoses.

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International Drug Abuse Trends Examined

intldrugsmapThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has published information showing how drugs and drug abuse is affecting different countries throughout the world. The information shows a world that is flooded with drug use, but more importantly, what drugs are the biggest threats in which countries. This information can allow researchers and law enforcement to best prevent further drug use and understand what problems are facing different governments around the world.

The drug of choice for the United States of late is opioids. Opioids consist of prescription painkillers and heroin. Addicts in the U.S. have struggled with heroin for decades, however, prescription painkillers have been a relatively new problem over the past 20 years or so. In the nineties, pharmaceutical companies began developing and marketing medications to combat chronic pain. Up until then, people who struggled with back pain or pain from surgeries or accidents oftentimes had to learn how to live with the pain were limited in the number of prescriptions available to them.

When prescription painkillers began to flood the market and promote their “benefits” heavily, doctors began prescribing the pills to patients in record numbers. Unfortunately, the level of addiction associated with prescription painkillers was severely underestimated and millions of people began to develop addictions to the pills. Since then, prescription painkillers have taken the country by storm, moving beyond chronic pain patients and into schools and neighborhoods.

The United States is not the only country to continue to struggle with opioids. Almost all of the heaviest addiction problems in Europe are to opioids. This information shows researchers that the problem is definitely more global in nature, rather than being isolated among a few countries. The focus on eliminating prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse may be more effective if done on a grander worldwide scale.

Drug use throughout the rest of the world seems to vary. The most common drug Canadians, Australians and Mexicans abuse is marijuana. Those living in Scotland are more likely to abuse cocaine, while those living in New Zealand are more likely to abuse Ecstasy. Although the report from the United Nations does not hypothesize why people in different countries tend to abuse different kinds of drugs, further research into this question may help to bring about a solution to the growing, worldwide drug problem.