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.

Percentage of ER Visits From Opiates and Narcotics in 2013

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 rehab 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, as well as causing or exacerbating existing mental health issues. 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.

Are You Ready to Get Help?

Our treatment specialists are available 24/7 to help you or your loved one find a treatment program that suits your needs. It only takes one call to start your new life in recovery!


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
  • Constipation
  • 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
  • Paranoia
  • Low self-esteem
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Damaged relationships
  • Death via overdose or toxicity

Spotting the Signs of Opioid Painkiller Abuse

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, behavior shifts, and other changes in mental health or stability, 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)
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin
  • Duragesic
  • Actiq
  • Dilaudid
  • Avinza
  • Kadian
  • Demerol
  • Codeine

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 addiction 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.

Questions About Suboxone?

Speak to one of our experienced treatment specialists to learn more about how this miracle drug can help you beat an addiction to opiates.


Learn more about methadone and Suboxone by clicking on either option below:

Methadone Risks

Methadone or methadone hydrochloride is a chemical compound made of a crystal white, water-soluble matter. It is administered orally, by pill or liquid, through an accredited drug treatment program to help those addicted to heroin or other opioids get through the withdrawal process.

Common brand names of methadone include:

  • Dolophine
  • Methadose

Methadone helps ease the heroin detox process by targeting specific areas of the brain and spinal cord to prevent the user from feeling high. At the same time, methadone reduces cravings and the dangerous withdrawal symptoms that so often lead those in heroin treatment to relapse and begin opioid drug use again.

Unlike the short-term sensations that heroin provides, just one dose of methadone can last from 24 to 59 hours.

The dangers of methadone use include:

  • Toxicity from the drug builds up over time
  • No sensation after use, so it’s easy to ingest more than needed
  • Can be fatal when used with other drugs
  • Harder to withdraw from than heroin

The side effects of methadone range from abdominal pain, restlessness and anxiousness to hallucinations, difficulty breathing and rapid heart rate. Since methadone lingers in the body so long, users may not feel like they are still under the influence of the drug, even when they are, and this is puts them at risk of overdose when they go to take their next dose.

Methadone dispensation is usually carefully and tightly controlled, meaning it’s hard to find the drug on the black market. Somehow, though, an average of roughly 5,000 Americans enter treatment annually for non-prescription methadone abuse.

Suboxone Risks

In 2000, Suboxone became one of two narcotic drugs under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act to be allowed to be prescribed to patients from an office location. The sole purpose of Suboxone, a synthetic opioid, was to provide people relief from morphine, codeine or heroin withdrawal, while reducing patients cravings for additional opioid abuse.

Although the ideology behind Suboxone, generic name buprenorphine, is similar to methadone (another opioid for opioid withdrawal relief), the delivery system and risks have some differences. Patients prescribed Suboxone may take it by placing a pill, tablet or sheet of film atop the tongue or sublingually (under the tongue), allowing it to slowly dissolve in their system.

While buprenorphine is opioid medication, it doesn’t create that same sense of euphoria that other addictive opioid drugs do, making it effective as a controlled way to wean off opioids for the short term.

Unfortunately, the user can become physically and psychologically addicted to Suboxone. There is also the potential for willful abuse, as crushed buprenorphine tablets alone or in combination with naloxone can be injected by addicts directly into a blood vessel, causing a severe, potentially deadly reaction.

Taking Suboxone even as prescribed makes it difficult to operate machinery or vehicles, and it produces a sense of numbness throughout the body, altering the user’s ability to feel sensations.

Additionally, Suboxone carries a risk of side effects such as:

  • Cold or flu-like feeling
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Abnormal sleep
  • Mood swings
  • Diminished breathing

Extended use of Suboxone has been known to lessen one’s desire for sex, induce hair loss and make it difficult to properly respond to physical and emotional stress.

As you may have gleaned, Suboxone carries a risk of addiction too. If you try to detox from the drug, keep in mind Suboxone withdrawal symptoms are often delayed and may not show up until days after ceasing use of the drug.

Suboxone detox withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiousness
  • Sadness
  • Moodiness

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 rehab treatment beyond the detox phase, rather than going straight to outpatient care. The optimal destination for addiction 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 rehab 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 drug and alcohol rehab 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 rehab treatment will make the difference between staying sober and relapsing.

Levels Of Addiction Care

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.

Insurance for Rehab

Learn More About Detox