Prescription analgesics provide much-needed relief for people who suffer from acute or chronic pain. But these potent drugs can wreak devastation on your health, relationships and finances if they are abused. An addiction to painkillers can also lead to serious legal problems, including prison time.
How can you avoid the risks of painkiller addiction and lead a fulfilling, drug-free life? Residential and outpatient rehab programs can help you escape the deadly cycle of opioid addiction.
Opioids are the most addictive class of painkillers. Derived from natural opium, which comes from a plant or from synthetic opiates produced in a laboratory, these drugs act immediately on the areas of your brain that process sensations of pain and pleasure. When you take an analgesic like hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine or codeine — especially in high doses — you may experience feelings of euphoria as well as the relief of pain.
Your brain’s natural reward system registers these pleasurable feelings and associates them with drug use. The more you use painkillers, the higher the dose you’ll need to get the same effect. This experience, called tolerance, can lead to dependence and addiction if you use opioid pain relievers without a prescription or a doctor’s guidance.
Medications like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin — all part of the class of opioids — slow down the activity central nervous system (CNS), which includes your brain and spinal cord. In addition to relieving symptoms of pain, painkillers suppress vital functions like your heart rate, breathing and digestion. An overdose of painkillers can cause excessive sedation, coma and death.
If you think pain relievers are safer than street drugs because they’re produced by pharmaceutical companies and prescribed by doctors, consider the latest statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription painkiller overdoses are at an all-time high in the US, killing close to 15,000 Americans annually. In fact, the CDC states that prescription drug abuse has been killing more Americans in recent years than illicit street drugs like heroin and cocaine.
Financial and Legal Consequences
Addiction to painkillers can take a severe toll on your finances, especially if you buy these drugs on the streets. On average, prescription drugs like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin cost up to 10 times more per pill when you buy them on the street than when you purchase them with a legitimate doctor’s prescription, notes CNN Money.
Along with the cost of the drugs themselves, addiction can cost thousands of dollars in lost wages, especially if you lose your job. The legal ramifications of painkiller addiction can be devastating, resulting in steep fines, a jail or prison sentence, and loss of custody of children.
Risks to Loved Ones
The effects of painkiller abuse don’t end with the addict. Spouses, partners, children, parents and siblings also suffer from the effects of narcotic abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services warns that children whose parents abuse drugs are more likely to have problems with their physical, emotional and social development. Domestic violence, sexual abuse and family conflict are common in households where one or more adults are addicted to narcotics.
While some people start taking opioid medication for recreational reasons, others develop an addiction as a result of true chronic pain. If you or someone you love is abusing painkillers, you need compassionate, nonjudgmental treatment from addiction specialists who care about your future.
Located in Southern California, Michael’s House takes a holistic approach to your painkiller addiction recovery, treating your mind and spirit as well as your body. Contact us today for information on our residential and outpatient painkiller addiction treatment programs.