Did you know 250 million painkiller prescriptions were written in 2013? At one point or another, all of us have been prescribed a medication by a doctor without even thinking twice about the potential risks that go along it, such as addiction. This is because most people are given little detail about the drug, and when they do want to know more, there’s a chance of being misinformed with all the false information that’s out there.
That being said, here are some key facts and debunked myths about opioids to help you learn more about painkillers and determine if you or a loved one is struggling with painkiller addiction.
Oftentimes, the terms opioids and opiates are used interchangeably, especially when referring to the “opioid crisis” that includes heroin, prescription drugs and fentanyl. Prescription painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet and Demerol and fentanyl are all man-made synthetic drugs used to relieve pain. On the other hand, heroin, morphine, codeine and opium are natural pain remedies derived from the opium poppy.
Painkillers work by activating opioid receptors in the brain and throughout the body. This receptor activation is accompanied by a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine to help you feel good. This temporary relief from pain oftentimes makes you believe the root cause of your pain is gone. The return of the pain can trigger your need to take more painkillers than prescribed to continue feeling better.
Like any drug, painkillers can have negative effects on your mind and body. As a depressant, opioids slow your breathing and heartbeat, and can lead to physical problems like nausea, low energy and reduced motor coordination.
Even when taken properly, the changes opioids cause in the brain can make you need more in order to feel good, causing you to become dependent on the drug.
In an ideal scenario, you’ll take the prescription as written and be done with it when the prescription runs out. But if you start taking more than prescribed, opioids can have serious consequences on your mind and body. As your brain becomes more dependent on the drug, not getting it will cause anxiety, depression and agitation. Opioid abuse can also cause damage to the lungs, liver, stomach and heart, and in serious cases, lead to liver failure and overdose.
Just because you’re prescribed an opioid for pain relief doesn’t mean you’re going to become an addict who craves the drug nonstop. Becoming addicted to painkillers depends largely on how you take the drug and your genetic makeup. If addiction seems to run in your family or you have suffered from depression or another psychiatric disorder, it’s important to tell your doctor so they can determine the right medical approach for you.
At Covenant Hills, our sole focus is to help you recover completely from painkiller addiction and restore your strength, dignity, energy and happiness. Learn more about our prescription drug treatment program and contact us or call us directly at (800) 662-2873 for a free and confidential assessment.