Pain relief is one of the most prominent reasons most people visit doctors. Currently, there are several drugs that can be used to ease and manage pain. The most common pain relievers are opiods also called opiates or narcotics; these pain relievers are made from opium which is extracted from the poppy plant. Most pain medications give an intoxicating ‘high’ when taken orally or injected in high doses. Additionally, pain medications are also powerful anxiety and distress relievers. Commonly prescribed pain medication drugs such as Darvocet, Vicodin, OxyContin and Methadone sadly cause people to start ‘needing’ drugs in order to feel normal.
What are some indicators that an individual may be addicted to pain medication?
Increasing amount consumed and frequency of consumption without a doctor’s recommendation
It is a common occurrence for people taking medication to grow tolerant to the prescribed dose overtime. When addicted, a person may start taking more than prescribed and may even start thinking that a doctor does not understand their level of pain. Trying to control how pain medication is taken instead of following a doctor’s instructions is an indication that a person may be developing addiction. As the addiction grows, a person literally starts craving for the drugs.
A noticeable negative change in personality
An addiction to pain medication can cause significant alteration to one’s personality. This is a symptom that they are slowly becoming dependent on the pain meds and the side effects that these drugs provide such as relieving stress, anxiety and distress.
Using pain medication for other reasons rather than pain relief
A common indication of addiction to pain medication is using these drugs for other reasons such as relieving anxiety, distress and general stress. Such a person will continue using these drugs even after the medical condition or medical issue has improved.
Pain medication causes a variety of physical symptoms that are easily noticeable
Over consuming pain-relieving drugs may cause a person to have red-glazed eyes, a running nose and even a constant cough. Additionally, addiction to pain medication can also cause increased sensitivity to sight and sound. Emotions can also become overly stimulating to a person addicted to pain medication. Forgetfulness and blackouts are other clear indications that a person is developing an addiction to opiates.
Spending too much time and even money obtaining opiates
Addiction to pain medication can be overwhelming to the point that a person can ignore other responsibilities and solely focus on obtaining drugs. When addicted to opiates, a person spends resources and time searching for narcotics even when it is causing problems at work, in school, in family and even leading to social withdrawal.
How to handle a loved one who shows signs of narcotic addiction
- Avoid confrontational interventions and instead find a gentle but firm way to motivate an addict to seek help. Most people addicted to opiates can be very defensive because they may not consider their kind of addiction a serious problem as compared to alcohol and drug addiction. The gentle and informative approach works well. Although confrontational interviews are popular, they have a tendency to escalate to violent and abusive altercations.
- Addiction to pain medication is not easily recognizable and sometimes a person may not even be aware that they are developing an addiction. Since pain medication is prescribed by a doctor, a person may not even realize that they have a problem. It is advisable to educate the user about addiction to narcotics and help them gradually realize that they have a detrimental problem; this makes acceptance easier and makes full recovery a real possibility.
- When a loved one is addicted to pain medication it is advisable to go for a slow and steady treatment regimen. Although rapid detox programs claim to accelerate detoxification, there is no actual proof that these methods are effective. Slow and steady is the way to go; psychological and social factors can drive a person back to addiction so maintenance therapy coupled with support from family and friends is indispensable.
- When dealing with a loved one who is addicted to pain medication, it is important to keep in mind that addiction is not about moral failure or lack of willpower. It is actually an ailment and some people are genetically more susceptible than others. The trick is to find the perfect balance between being supportive but firm and resolute so that you don’t become an enabler.