Prescription drug abuse is a problem that has reached epidemic proportions in America and elsewhere in the world. One of the most common reasons people see their physicians is for help with pain relief and they are increasingly being prescribed opiate drugs which are highly addictive. As a consequence, rehab facilities across America report an alarming rise in the number of individuals being treated for painkiller addiction.
Opiate painkillers work by interrupting the brain’s neurotransmitters to create pleasant sensations and eliminate pain signals from other parts of the body. When a person is prescribed a course of highly-potent opiate drugs, they are likely to find that the slowly lose their effectiveness over time. It is usually because people start taking higher doses to eliminate pain that they develop a tolerance and consequently are at risk of becoming dependent or addicted.
The Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Abuse
It is the way opiate painkillers become less effective over time that places people at risk of developing dependence. Tolerance is usually a result of abusing opiate painkillers as people find themselves taking more to get the effects they need. Tolerance is generally marked by the emergence of opiate withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using, which increase in severity unless they seek treatment. This is the body’s way of communicating cravings and opiate withdrawal is unlikely to be reduced unless the person uses again or completes detox.
The signs that therapeutic use of opiate drugs has become dependence or addiction include:
- Taking the meds outside of the prescribed doses or times
- Using the med to ease emotional symptoms like anxiety
- Using opioids recreationally to get high rather than treat pain
- Requiring more and more of the medication to get the same effects achieved at the start of the prescribed course
- Increasingly compulsive behavior to obtain and use opioid-painkillers despite the negative consequences
The Most Addictive Painkillers
The following ten prescription medications contain opiates and are among the most commonly prescribed today, according to NIDA. One of the main problems is that prescription opiates are being prescribed for chronic pain conditions and people are using them for dangerously prolonged periods of times. The following list includes the ten most available opiate drugs on the market today although it is by no means exhaustive:
Fentanyl is a substance that is exponentially more powerful than morphine and comes in the brand names Actiq, Sublimaze, and Duragesic. This med is generally prescribed for people with post-surgical pain or severe trauma. However, it is increasingly being abused as a street drug purely for recreational purposes. Fentanyl can be used for individuals who have become tolerant of opiates which illustrates the drug’s potency.
Oxycodone is the brand name of OxyContin and it is used for moderate to severe chronic pain conditions that are expected to last for an extended period of time.
Demerol is widely used to help people sleep before a surgical procedure and also to treat moderate to severe pain such as that experienced after childbirth or trauma. The street name for Demerol used for recreational purposes is “Demmies” or “Pain Killer”.
Hydrocodone is available as a tablet taken orally or in syrup form and is used to treat moderate to pain caused by chronic conditions, injuries or surgical procedures.
Morphine has been used for many years to treat severe pain conditions that are expected to last for some time such as that resulting from cancer or cancer treatment. Morphine is a natural opiate that is available under the brand names of Duramorph and MS Contin.
This medication contains oxycodone, making it similar to OxyContin. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain and comes in capsule, tablet or syrup form. The street terminology for Percocet is “Hillbilly Heroin” or “Percs.”
Codeine is similar to morphine in that it is a natural opiate that’s prescribed for pain relief. This is a short-acting medication that is often prescribed with aspirin or acetaminophen which both extend codeine’s effects.
Methadone is widely recognized as a substance used for people trying to overcome heroin addiction. It is also used to relieve pain and often misused for recreational reasons. Methadone is available in tablet and liquid form with brands names including Dolophine and Methadose.
This is a brand name for a med called hydromorphone which is generally used in hospitals, administered by IV following a surgical procedure. Dilaudid is available in tablet, suppository and syrup form and is prescribed for short-term pain relief.
This medication is available under brand names including Opana, Numorphone, and Numorphan. It is available in two forms, one to give immediate pain relief and the other an extended-release of oxymorphone.
Getting Help for Prescription Drug Dependence or Addiction
The main problem with prescription opiates is that people who are using them for pain relief are often unaware of a developing problem. Recognizing the warning signs listed above is the first step in finding a treatment path to help you deal with pain management in healthier ways.
One of the most effective treatment methodologies for people with opiate dependence or addiction is the holistic approach. This is mainly because it focuses on the overall wellbeing of the individual by addressing the treatment needs of their mind, body, and spirit.
Using holistic therapies such as meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, and massage, it is possible to find other ways of dealing with chronic pain that are completely natural. While receiving treatment in a holistic rehab center, individuals also learn how to heal themselves with natural therapies that act as effective mechanisms to promote long-term recovery.