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There is nothing wrong with enjoying things. Humans are wired to seek out pleasure, but when the positives of the pleasure become negative, you are likely facing addition, and addiction comes with great risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every day, 44 people in the U.S. die from overdose of prescription painkillers, and many more become addicted.
Prescription Painkillers Cause a Reward Response
If taking opioid drugs makes you feel more in control, better, then you may have rewired your brain’s reward responses. People like to feel good and will avoid discomfort if possible. Once your brain decides that prescription drugs make it feel good and that stopping feels bad (withdrawal), you are facing the symptoms of an addiction.
You Can’t Stop Taking the Medication
If you can’t stop yourself from using the drug, even if you want to, you are addicted. Be aware of instances in which you are still using even though it’s making bad things happen in your life: trouble with friends, family, work, or the law. These are indicators of addiction.
You may end up having a difficult time setting boundaries. Perhaps you say you’ll only use “so much” but then end up using twice that amount because you can’t control yourself. Alternatively, you may use it more often than you meant to.
You Are Using Your Medications for Reasons Other Than Prescribed
When people can’t stop taking medications, they often use them for nonmedical reasons like those that follow.
- Taking larger doses than prescribed
- Using the medicine in a form not prescribed, such as crushing pills
- Going to more than one doctor to get prescriptions for the same drug or problem
- Using meds prescribed for other people
- Avoiding telling your doctor about all the drugs you’re taking
- Taking a drug after it’s no longer needed for a health problem
- Taking prescribed meds with alcohol or other drugs
You are Experiencing Tolerance and Withdrawal
Because prescription drugs contain elements that concretely lead to addiction, you will have to deal with developing a tolerance overt time and suffering through withdrawal should you stop using.
Prescription painkillers cause physical dependence. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent symptoms of withdrawal. Over time, greater amounts of the drug become necessary to produce the same effect, which signals tolerance has developed.
The time it takes to become physically dependent varies from person to person.
Withdrawal from prescription painkillers can happen whenever any chronic use is finished or reduced and the U.S. National Library of Medicine identifies the following early withdrawal symptoms:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
The following late symptoms are also identified:
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Goose bumps
Drugs Are Disrupting Your Life
Have prescription painkillers disturbed your life and relationships? You only have so much time in your life to get things done; it isn’t possible to have more than 24 hours in a day. When you are grappling with an addiction, you give more and more of your time to facilitating your drug use. This involves taking the meds, getting the meds, and keeping up a steady supply. These activities will begin to take time away from the things that used to matter to you: friend, family, work, school.
Addiction is a disease that controls you. You become wrapped up in your impulses, pleasures, anxieties, fears, and needs. Your addiction will begin to take over your life, pushing aside your rational choices and better judgment. If you believe you are struggling with a dangerous addiction that is taking negative toll on your life, it’s time to speak with a professional.