Blog | Drug Addiction

Painkiller Addiction: Self-Medicating Emotional Pain

Painkillers, especially opiate painkillers, are extremely addictive. It doesn’t matter who you are: if you take prescription medications like OxyContin, hydrocodone, Xanax, Vicodin, Fentanyl or codeine, you will build up a tolerance to opioid drugs. Eventually, you will need more of the opioid substance to achieve the initial painkilling effects.

Opioid tabletsOpioid painkillers (also known as narcotic painkillers) are both mentally and physically addictive. Physical tolerance is a primary characteristic of prescription painkiller addiction. Tolerance often drives individuals to use more and more drugs to achieve the desired effects. Once tolerance and dependence set in, a medical detox will be needed to break the pattern.

There are a number of reasons people become addicted to prescription painkillers, but the attempt to self-medicate emotional pain is high on the list. The emotional reasons we abuse drugs and alcohol can be broken down into four different categories:

  • Inability to handle pain
  • Feelings of unworthiness
  • Need for approval from others
  • Need for control, numbing, or relief from anxiety

Emotional Painkiller Addiction: Inability to Handle Pain

Unfortunately, many people feel experiences of overwhelming emotional pain in childhood, and experience feelings like helplessness and loneliness as a result. However, as an adult, it is possible to learn to manage these feelings in a healthy way without turning to drugs for assistance. Taking a narcotic or opioid drug doesn’t make the feelings or the problem disappear. Instead, when the effects of the drug wear off, the original problem is still there—except it is now compounded by the issue of prescription drug addiction.

Emotional Painkiller Addiction: Feelings of Unworthiness

Feelings of unworthiness may come from not receiving the affection you needed as a child or the perception that you did not get what you needed from the adults in your life. A very small child may speculate on the cause of this and decide that he or she does not deserve to be loved.

These feelings can create a deep-seated sense of shame. Sadly, these feelings can follow us into adulthood and hinder us, even if we find a loving partner, friends, or community. Taking painkillers may seem like the only way to feel better about ourselves. Unfortunately, the mechanism of opiate addiction is such that, over time, without the pills, we feel even worse than we did before we started.

Emotional Painkiller Addiction: Needing the Approval of Others

Women at sidewalk cafe

Approval from other people is a core need for most individuals. While wanting and needing recognition is healthy, it can be debilitating if too much importance is placed upon the opinions of others. Sometimes, individuals turn to substance use as a way to numb social anxiety or quell worries about what other people think.

Emotional Painkiller Addiction: Needing Control

The need for control is another reason that a person may turn to painkillers. The fact that life is uncontrollable is scary. Unfortunately, painkiller addiction can become dangerously out of control, too. You may be able to control your mood with the first pill, but the second and third and fourth pill will control you.

End Painkiller Addiction at Michael’s House

Healing from painkiller addiction is possible. At Michael’s House, we know that facing pain and discomfort can be an unimaginable thought, and we are here to help you every step of the way. At Michael’s House, we have the tools and resources you need to become healthy again. We can help you break your addiction to opioids or other substances with a painkiller detox and rehab program that is personalized to suit your needs. Call Michael’s House today for more information.