Living with painkiller addiction can lead to a variety of physical, mental and emotional problems, compounding the pain. Help your loved one recover.
Painkillers are essential to keeping a variety of aches at bay, from headaches to pain from surgical wounds. It comes in a variety of types, too, depending on the intensity of the pain.
Paracetamol is often given for headaches and other non-nerve pain. There are also non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Ibuprofen and Aspirin, that’s used to ease back pain and toothaches. They’re also used to treat inflammation from arthritis, strains, sprains and more.
The most potent painkillers are opioids, like codeine, fentanyl and morphine. Opioids bind to specific receptors in the brain, spine and other body parts to reduce the pain signals sent to the brain. They’re often given to end-of-life patients, the treatment of scoliosis and surgery patients to help manage the pain they feel from their symptoms.
Complications from Painkiller Misuse
Although painkillers are important kinds of medication, they can also be dangerous, especially NSAIDs and opioids. Excessive consumption of NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen can lead to dangerous complications. These complications may include stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, and liver and kidney issues. And although they aren’t addictive, people may develop a dependency, taking them every time they feel even the slightest pain, which can lead to overuse.
Opioids, however, can lead to addiction if misused. According to the Mayo Clinic, addiction happens when a person experiences something pleasurable and feels like it’s something they can no longer live without. Opioids create a feeling of pleasure by triggering the release of endorphins – neurotransmitters that make the brain feel good. They greatly increase feelings of pleasure and dampen feelings of pain, creating a temporary but powerful high. When that high subsides, a person may want to feel it again as soon as possible.
Opioids also cause the body to slow down its endorphin production, making it tolerant against the same doses of the same drug. This may drive a person to increase their dosage in order to feel the same or even a stronger high. This puts a person down the shaky road of addiction, and it’s difficult to help them out of it.
The troubling thing is that anyone who uses opioids can develop an addiction. According to the Priory Group, over 115,000 opioid prescriptions are made in a day in the UK. About five of those prescriptions result in death. Opioid deaths have also increased by 41 percent to over 2,000 annually.
Help a loved one living with painkiller dependency or addiction or at risk of developing one with the following steps:
Know the Symptoms
Living with a painkiller addiction has a variety of symptoms. The most obvious one is the continued use of the drugs even after their pain has subsided. They may also lie or exaggerate about their pain to get a prescription from a doctor. Physical and mental symptoms include excessive sweating, problems with focusing, dizziness and disorientation and more. When they’re deep into their condition, they may have problems prioritizing their work, loved ones, and other important responsibilities.
If they suddenly stop taking painkillers, they may get withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and more. Knowing these symptoms help you identify if your loved one may be living with a painkiller addiction.
Educate Them About It
Do research about painkiller addiction and its effects on a person. Talk with a psychiatrist about it to know as much as you can. Once you’re sure that your loved one is living with an addiction, you can then reach out to them. Confront them about the effect of addiction in their life. Educate them about the complications of addiction and how it damages their physical and mental health and disrupts their work and relationships.
Encourage Them to Seek Help
The best thing you can do in reaching out to your loved one is to encourage them to get professional help. Have them work with a psychiatrist to find out which treatment method is best for their disorder. There are two categories of treatment: medication and behavioral treatment. Behavioral treatments help patients stop their use of drugs by changing their unhealthy behaviors and thinking patterns. Experts will help them avoid situations that may lead to relapse and manage their cravings for pain medication.
It’s important to just encourage them and not force them to get help. You don’t want them to resent you or avoid getting treatment because of a bad experience they had with you. Getting treatment should fully be their choice.
Painkiller addiction is probable if someone you love is taking opiates for their current condition. Use these suggestions to know as much as you can about it and how you can help them recover while managing their pain.