Identifying a Painkiller Addiction

Identifying a Painkiller Addiction

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Identifying a Painkiller Addiction

A pain killer is any type of over the counter or prescription medication used to treat pain. For some this may be a one-time thing like taking Tylenol for a headache. But for others chronic pain may require something prescription strength that is needed long term. There are many prescription pain killers available from doctors, but pain killers have gotten a bad reputation, with good reason due to high risk of painkiller addiction.

Pain killers are powerful medications that interfere with the central nervous system’s transmission of the nerve signals that we typically perceive as pain. The majority of painkillers also stimulate the portions of the brain that are associated with pleasure. This creates a type of ‘high’. Some of the most powerful prescription painkillers are known as opioids which are similar to opium in their chemical makeup. Opium is used to make heroin. The most commonly abused opioid painkillers are oxycodone, hydrocodone, meperidine, hydromorphone, and propoxyphene. These will be described below.


Oxycodone is sold under various trade names, including Percodan, Roxiprin, Endodan, Percocet, and OxyContin among others. It has the greatest potential for abuse of a prescription painkiller, as well as the greatest dangers associated with abuse. It is just as powerful as heroin and affects the nervous system in much the same way.


This medication is actually a combination of medications and other chemicals that is available by prescription as a tablet, syrup, or capsule. The production as well as sales of this medication have increased in past years and it is often used illegally. Hydrocodone is sold under the trade names Lortab, Lorcet, Vicodin, and Dicodid among others. Hydrocodone is also highly addictive, but slightly less so than Oxycodone.


This medication is sold under two brand names for tablets, Demerol and Dilaudid (Hydromorphone), as well as capsules called Darvon (Propoxyphene). All three have been known to be used illegally by being crushed, injected, snorted, or smoked. This is often called drug store heroin and is believed to be up to eight times more potent than morphine.

Pain Killer Addiction

Addiction to painkillers is becoming all too common in today’s societies. Some countries have already banned the use of certain painkillers because of such a high rate of addiction. Doctors cite prescription painkiller abuse as one of the most difficult addictions to treat. This type of addiction is so far reaching that one in ten high school students claim to have abused prescription painkillers in the past year and about half of all heroin addicts believe their addiction started with prescription pain killers.

Signs of a Painkiller Addiction

There are several signs of early painkiller addiction. These can include doctor shopping, mood swings, dangerous behaviors in spite of consequences, paranoia, decreased cognitive function, and pinprick pupils. Doctor shopping is just as it sounds. A person may visit several doctors to receive more than one painkiller prescription and then fill them at separate pharmacies to avoid detection.

As most prescription painkillers are now schedule 2 medications this is harder to do, but some people still find a way to do so. Erratic mood swings are also common as the person may be up one minute and very down the next, these can become more pronounced when the person runs out of the medication.

Dangerous behaviors are also somewhat common. These behaviors are often extreme and the person takes risks in spite of knowing the possible consequences. Along with mood swings and the others, the person may become paranoid that people are taking their medication or about other things in daily life. Another common sign is a decrease in cognitive functioning, especially as the person begins to take more medication. The individual may have a limited memory, may lose words, and be unable to hold a lengthy conversation. These are the early signs and can get worse over time.

Additionally, not all people will display all symptoms or may not have all symptoms at the same time. Some symptoms may come and go daily or never be experienced as addiction is different for all individuals and based on what substance is being used in what ways.

Developing an Addiction

As with all addictions, painkiller addiction may begin with the person using the painkiller appropriately and then building up a tolerance. This tolerance will have the person craving more medication for the same feeling as when they first took the medication. This can lead to a strong addiction. As addiction progresses, new symptoms may appear. The user may begin to have intense cravings. So much so that they will not leave the house without the medication, may procure it illegally, or even get anxious when it is time to take more medication, as well as mixing it with other medications. The person may also experience nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, watery eyes, a runny nose, fever, sweating, and hypertension.

Additionally, the person may have an increased heart rate, agitation and depression.  These can be signs of addiction, but can also be present in withdrawal which can occur as soon as six hours after the last use with a peak around three days and lasting up to a week.

Treatment for Painkiller Addiction

If you or a loved one has an addiction to painkillers then seek help immediately. Even if the intention was not to abuse painkillers when they were started, once addicted it can be scary and even dangerous to withdrawal from them for the individual. If you find yourself in need of a rehab facility then consider The River in Thailand.

The River offers an in-patient 12 week program that works with each individual to overcome painkiller addiction. They are so sure of the program that if you relapse within one year you can come back to rehab for a month for a complementary stay. The River works to combat addiction and other behavioral challenges with a focus on happy, healthy, and permanent recovery. Enjoy the beautiful views while being treated with evidence-based treatment practices with a core focus on life skills. Your life and livelihood are on the line and you deserve the best, that is why The River is the best choice.