Painkiller abuse can be defined as taking prescription drugs other than how a doctor prescribed them. Prescription drug misuse is dangerous primarily because it can lead to opioid addiction, and with that comes an increased risk of overdose and death. The level of abuse is staggering, with over 18 million Americans abusing prescription drugs in 2017.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to medications prescribed initially by a doctor, learn the signs of a prescription drug overdose. Contact Alina Lodge confidentially online or call us at 833.685.1700 today to discover how our prescription drug rehab can help.
The Phases of Painkiller Abuse
While every person’s descent into prescription drug abuse and addiction is different, there are common themes and phases to painkiller abuse and addiction.
Non-Medical Use of Painkillers
The first sign of a prescription drug overdose and that you are on the road to addiction is when you begin to use your prescription painkillers for non-medicinal purposes. Some people take painkillers without a prescription recreationally or to help cope with a co-occurring disorder or problem. These experiments with prescription painkillers are not always an indication of a desire to continue using the drugs, but non-medical use can become a bad habit and move you into the more dangerous second stage of painkiller abuse.
For those with medical prescriptions for painkillers, non-medical use involves taking a drug more often than prescribed, taking pills not prescribed to you, and using more than the dose your doctor originally prescribed. If you are using a prescription for non-medical purposes, it’s likely a red flag that you have begun to take their painkillers not only to treat pain but also to get high.
Misuse of Painkillers
Misusing prescription drugs is much like non-medical use, but painkiller abuse is now being done at a chronic level. If you take more than the recommended dose just a few times, it is considered a non-medical use, but you have entered the next phase of prescription drug abuse when regularly misusing prescription drugs. This is a critical phase in painkiller addiction because it is here where a person’s tolerance is being built up, which means they will have to keep increasing the dosage to keep experiencing the same high or same level of pain relief which can easily lead to a drug overdose. If the painkiller abuse can be identified in this stage, prescription drug rehab can be started and help with recovery. Opiate painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, and Fentanyl are prone to dependence and addiction if misused beyond their recommended doses.
Abuse of Painkillers
Repeated and chronic misuse of prescription drugs is a clear sign of painkiller abuse. Other signs that you or a loved one is suffering from painkiller abuse include:
- Problems in relationship
- Missing work
- Skipping school
- Not keeping commitments
- Failing at your responsibilities
This is the stage where the warning signs of prescription drug abuse and signs of a prescription drug overdose begin to appear. Some of these common signs include:
- Obsessing about painkillers
- Withdrawal symptoms
The physical dependence on prescription drugs can swiftly lead to psychological dependence, and when that occurs, you have reached the treacherous final stage of painkiller abuse: addiction. Physical dependence refers to the withdrawal symptoms you will feel when not using prescription drugs, but psychological dependence is your compulsion to keep using the drugs. This despite knowing and seeing the severe negative consequences painkiller abuse is having in your life, including to your:
- Physical condition
- Mental health
- Criminal record
Once a painkiller addiction has taken hold, you may start to time your doses so that you never come down from the high. This will take you down a path of stealing pills, doctor shopping, and buying pills illegally to never feel a withdrawal and is one of the causes of a prescription drug overdose.
The 10 Signs of Prescription Drug Overdose
It is essential to understand and recognize the signs of a prescription drug overdose in yourself and others in your life. That way, you can seek out prescription drug treatment before a life is damaged beyond repair or lost. Here are the top 10 signs of painkiller abuse leading to overdose:
- Continued use of the drug, even after the pain for which it was prescribed has stopped
- Lying about symptoms to get more of the painkillers
- Behavior changes (for example, hostility, anxiety)
- Lack of interest in alternative treatment options
- Secretive behavior like stealing prescriptions, doctor shopping, using other people’s prescriptions
- Physical withdrawal
- Needing more pills to ease pain or to get high
- Withdrawing from family, friends activities, hobbies, and social life
- Financial issues
- Poor decision making
Learn More at Alina Lodge
If you are currently struggling with painkiller abuse and have the desire to get help, contact Alina Lodge using our secure online form or call us at 833.685.1700 today.