It has become a normal tendency to pop in a painkiller every time we feel the slightest hint of pain. There exist several different types of prescription painkillers; some of which are simply meant to ease headaches and other minor issues, and others strong enough to mitigate pain as severe as that related to cancer. It may come as a surprise, but people do get addicted to something as simple as painkillers. Some of these, especially the stronger ones, are known to be habit forming.
As painkillers manage to numb pain effectively, people develop the habit of resorting to them for the slightest reason - even after the initial reason for taking them has been resolved - and this habit eventually snowballs into addiction which is difficult to get rid of.
Signs and Symptoms of Painkiller Addiction
Addiction to painkillers can be attributed to a range of drugs, including opiates like oxycodone and hydrocodone, used in them. Studies reveal that 7 percent of those who are prescribed narcotic or opioid analgesics to relieve chronic pain end up getting addicted to them. There are many different signs and symptoms which can help a person know whether or not he is addicted to such pain relieving pills. These signs and symptoms vary from individual to individual in terms of occurrence and intensity.
Given below are some symptoms which a person addicted to prescribed painkillers is likely to demonstrate.
- The person will have cravings for the drugs. Initially, the painkillers that have been prescribed to alleviate pain, the patient will ask for these painkillers in the same dose even if the pain is not as severe anymore. These cravings will progressively become severe to an extent wherein a person may ask for the drugs several times in a day - a clear sign of dependence.
- After a while, not only will the addict feel the need to take this drug more and more often, but will also ask for an increase in the dosage. With time he will become tolerant to this drug, especially the painkillers containing opioids, as a result of which he would require higher doses of the same drug to bring about the same effect.
- Due to the constant need of having painkillers circulating in the body, addicts will often show personality changes over time. If he is denied the drug, then he may become very edgy, irritable and may, at times, even become violent and throw tantrums. Frequent mood swings and a change in the concentration ability will also be seen.
- As the only thing that an addict is bothered about is getting his next dose, he will often neglect his social duties. He may not bother about going back to work, utility bills and other such routine work around the house. Also, the addict will become asocial in his nature, and may even withdraw from his family and usual social circle.
- The person will not show slightest hesitation to change his doctor if his first doctor is refusing to give him an extension in his prescription. Thus, he will try and switch doctors constantly in an attempt to get his next dose of prescription painkillers.
- With severe addiction, the mood swings of a person may become unbelievably unpredictable. He may seem to be perfectly calm and composed at one point, but suddenly become wild and violent at the slightest provocation.
- Often, if a person is on relaxing painkillers, then he may even end up sleeping a lot, for more than half a day at a stretch at times.
- In severe cases, a person may even end up being subjected to side effects such as hallucinations and delirium. He may become sensitive to light and other such stimulus. Even normal light and sounds may make the person edgy. Also, if the person has regular blackouts or can't seem to remember where he was or what he was doing for long periods of time, then rest assured, he is into painkillers big time.
One of the simplest ways of cross checking for signs of addiction to prescribed drugs is to see if the person has actually realized what is happening and tried to quit habit forming prescription painkillers unsuccessfully. If a person has tried to quit, and eventually came back to it, then there is little need for any other proof to show that the person is clearly addicted to them.
Usually when people are accused of being addicts, they tend to become overly defensive and, at times, even become violent. In such circumstances, it is best to try convincing the person to seek professional help so that he can get over this addiction, and return to a normal life. If the withdrawal symptoms are making it difficult for the person to avoid these painkillers, then it's definitely the time for him to seek professional help.