Painkiller Addiction: How to Identify and How to Treat It

Painkillers in our culture

Doctors and rehabilitation therapists cite prescription painkiller abuse as one of the hardest addictions to treat. About half of heroin addicts claim their addiction started with prescription painkillers, and one in ten high school seniors in the United States has abused prescription painkillers in the last year.

Early Signs of Painkiller Addiction

  • Doctor Shopping
  • Erratic mood swings
  • Participating in dangerous behavior, despite harmful consequences
  • Paranoia
  • Decreased cognitive function, confusion, and drowsiness
  • Pinprick pupils

Commonly Abused Painkillers

  • Stadol
  • Demerol
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycontin
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Lorcet

Vicodin, or hydrocodone, and oxycontin are some of the most widely abused painkillers in the United States. These drugs are the most commonly prescribed and are more available than other painkillers.

Withdrawal Timeline for Painkillers

Withdrawal symptoms typically last about one week. They can start as soon as six hours after last use, and tend to peak about three days after cessation

Symptoms of Painkiller Addiction

  • Intense cravings to use
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Agitation
  • Sleep problems
  • Watery eyes or tearfulness
  • A runny nose
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever and sweating
  • Shivering
  • Depression
  • Hypertension

How to treat painkiller addiction?

People who are addicted to prescription painkillers need integrated, intense care to help them beat this incredibly difficult addiction. Because a lot of people who abuse painkillers also genuinely need pain management for severe injuries and illnesses, they require a specialized, customized treatment plan with a team of doctors and therapists. They may be able to receive lower doses of painkillers under a doctor’s supervision at an inpatient detox facility or get relief from non-opioid analgesics.

Watch the entire Windward Way Explainer Series about addiction, insurance, detox, treatment, & more on our Youtube page.

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