Last updated: 04/30/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Accidents and injuries can happen when you least suspect it. When chronic pain symptoms result, the need for some form of ongoing pain treatment becomes necessary.
More often than not, prescription pain pills or opioids are prescribed to treat these conditions. These drugs include, Vicodin, Fentanyl, hydrocodone and many others.
Unfortunately, this line of treatment only works for so long before prescription pain pill addiction risks start to take root. Knowing what to watch for can help you avoid the dangerous pitfalls that prescription pain pill addiction can bring.
The Potential for Prescription Pain Pill Addiction
The body’s central nervous system can only respond to opioids for so long before adverse effects start outweigh the benefits. While effective, prescription pain pills should only be used on a short-term basis due to the high risk for abuse and addiction that can result, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
5 Signs to Watch for
1. Pain Symptoms Persist
As effective as prescription opioids can be, the brain and central nervous system soon adapt to their pain-relieving effects over time, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. After three or more months of ongoing use, the usual dosage amount will no longer be enough to relieve pain symptoms.
It’s at this point where a person is most likely to start abusing opioids, whether that entails taking larger than prescribed dosage amounts or increasing dosing frequency.
2. Withdrawal Episodes
Once abuse-type patterns begin, the brain comes to rely on opioid effects to carry out its regulatory functions. Also known as physical dependence, these conditions give rise to withdrawal episodes whenever needed amounts of the drug are lacking.
Withdrawal symptoms to watch for include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Muddled thinking
At this point, the foundation for a developing prescription pain pill addiction is in place.
3. Drug Cravings
The effects of prolonged opioid abuse eventually start to “rewire” the brain’s reward system, an area that ultimately dictates a person’s thinking, motivations and everyday priorities. Before long, the mind starts thinking about the next drug dose, prompting changes in mood and leaving a person feeling unsettled much of time.
In effect, drug cravings are symptom of a growing prescription pain pill addiction.
4. Compulsive Drug Use
Once opioid abuse patterns take shape, it doesn’t take very long at all before a person starts taking opioids for reasons other than pain relief. At this point, the effects of the drug become a means for coping with daily life pressures, some of which may include:
- Meeting work obligations
- Meeting family obligations
- Relieving stress
- Enhancing one’s mood
Once this pattern of use develops, a full-blown prescription pain pill addiction is at work.
5. Negative Consequences
The brain’s physical and psychological “need” for opioid effects gradually starts to take precedence over important life areas, warping a person’s judgment and decision-making abilities. Missed days at work, declining health and relationship conflicts grow in proportion as the addict’s obsession with getting and using opioids takes on increasing priority in his or her daily life.
Ultimately, the long-term use of opioids to treat pain leaves a person wide open for prescription pain pill addiction. If you’re experiencing one or more of the above signs, the time to get needed treatment help is now.