Prescription Painkillers and Addiction

For some people, pain can be an almost constant companion. For those whose suffering is significant, prescription painkillers can be a welcome method of pain control. Unfortunately these medications can be habit-forming, and it’s important to know the difference between medically valid pain pill use and abuse or addiction. They may not seem as dangerous as illicit drugs, but painkillers can be just as detrimental to your physical and mental health.


Prescription painkillers are designed to interact with your brain chemistry in order to slow or block pain messages from the rest of your body. In this way, pain pills help to mitigate pain sensations and can increase the quality of life for someone suffering from a painful condition. However, because the medication affects brain chemistry, there is potential for addiction, which is why adhering to prescription instructions and dosage is vitally important.


As pain pills work, the brain may develop a tolerance to the medication that requires higher doses to achieve the same effect. Taking more than the prescribed amount of painkillers or taking them more frequently than intended increases the likelihood of developing a dependence, which is when the brain requires the presence of the drug in order to operate normally. Once the initial legitimate reason for taking prescription painkillers has passed, the addiction remains.

The path to pain pill addiction can be deceptively easy. As with many addictions, it can stem from emotional turmoil, a need to fit in or even an ease of access. Sometimes well-meaning family members share their unused prescription pills within the family, while other people use pain pills for recreation, to achieve a high much like that produced by illicit drugs.


How can you recognize prescription pain killer addiction, and what should you watch out for? While there are many indicators, some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Increased medication use
  • Alterations in personality
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Changes in hygiene or other habits
  • Reluctance to stop taking pain pills

Like other addictions, prescription pain killers become the focus in a person’s life, often leading to a withdrawal from other people and activities. With proper assistance, people suffering from pain pill addiction can find their way back to good health.


Addiction to pain pills is a terrible burden. Your body fights against you, demanding more and more of the pills that fuel the addiction. However, there are steps to take to overcome this dependence.

The first step to recovery lies in detoxification. The body must be purged of the chemicals affecting your brain, and though the process may be taxing, medications may help to ease the symptoms caused by withdrawal.

After detox, the addictive chemicals have been physically eliminated from the body, but emotional or environmental factors can induce a relapse. To help decrease the likelihood of a relapse, certain medications can be prescribed to help combat cravings brought on by stress, overconfidence in new-found sobriety or other triggers.

Finally, therapy is a critical part of attaining lifelong recovery. Without addressing the emotional and mental aspects behind the development of a pain pill addiction, recovery can be difficult to maintain and relapses are possible.

The road to recovery can be difficult, but with help, those who struggle with an addiction to prescription pain killers can overcome this trial and live healthy, rewarding lives.

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