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The Problem with Prescription Painkillers

You’ve probably been prescribed a medication at some point in your life. Most likely, you followed the doctor’s orders and completed your scheduled dosage—right? Well, sometimes that’s the case and other times, prescribed painkillers become highly addictive to the person taking them.

Abuse of painkillers is a much more common problem than you may think, and can be toxic to your body and those around you. Thankfully there are warning signs that can help prevent this sort of addiction from taking over. 

 

What Are Painkillers?

They are a type of prescription used to treat pain, such as a pulled muscle or pain after surgery or an accident. The amount and type are determined by a medical professional and are usually prescribed for a few days or a few weeks. Some of the most common forms of painkillers are ibuprofen, aspirin, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, pethidine, and tramadol.

The three main parent types are classified as:

  • Opioids
  • CNS Depressants
  • Stimulants

 

Warning Signs of Abuse or Dependency

The following are common actions to watch for if you think you or someone you know is abusing medication:

  • Think about medicine often
  • Take amounts different than what’s prescribed
  • Go to more than one doctor for medicine or switch doctors frequently
  • Receive painkillers from sources outside of primary doctor
  • Use painkillers for a prolonged period
  • Hostility towards anyone who tries to talk about it
  • Changes in mood and personality

 

Causes of Addiction

Sometimes there is no apparent reason for the addiction. Other times, mental illness, life events, family history, or a personal history of abuse with other substances, like alcohol, can affect and increase one’s likelihood of adopting a painkiller addiction. Growing access to such drugs has been a major contributing factor, too.

 

Harm of Abuse

There are a variety of issues that can arise and affect those who abuse painkillers. Internal harm can occur, along with mental harm, lack of reasoning, and, in extreme cases of overdose—death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more individuals die from prescription drug overdose than they do from illegal drugs.

If you suspect someone you’re close to of abusing prescription medication, you need to recommend they visit a doctor for help. If you are experiencing an addiction, please reach out to your doctor to discuss how to prevent the cycle from continuing. If you do not wish to go to your healthcare provider, start by talking to a family member or friend.

We are here to provide you with resources and answer your questions. Contact Carrie Snyder, the Beebe Women's Health Nurse Navigator, at (844) 316-3330 or womenshealth@beebehealthcare.org.