Painkiller Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Pain management is easily coped with through narcotic painkillers. Not all are potentially habit forming, with the exception of opioids. Treating pain with a prescription drug requires less effort and quicker relief than other means, which is a large reason many people succumb to taking them. It’s always recommended that anyone taking a painkiller do so under medical supervision so that the dosage taken can be monitored. Addiction to painkillers can be highly risky especially when a user knowingly increases their dosage to recreate the same initial effects. There is a potential of dependence on a drug, but that does not necessarily mean one is addicted. There are other factors to take into consideration and look at when determining the degree of addiction or dependence.

Painkiller Dependence vs. Addiction

Tolerance and dependence don’t just happen with prescription pain drugs, notes Scott Fishman, MD, professor of anesthesiology and chief of the division of pain medicine at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. “They occur in drugs that aren’t addictive at all, and they occur in drugs that are addictive. So it’s independent of addiction,” says Fishman, who is the president and chairman of the American Pain Foundation and a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medication. Many people mistakenly use the term “addiction” to refer to physical dependence. That includes doctors. “Probably not a week goes by that I don’t hear from a doctor who wants me to see their patient because they think they’re addicted, but really they’re just physically dependent,” Fishman says. Fishman defines addiction as a “chronic disease … that’s typically defined by causing the compulsive use of a drug that produces harm or dysfunction, and the continued use despite that dysfunction.”

Physical Signs of Painkiller Dependence

The most common prescribed drugs that while helping to provide relief from pain also cause a user’s body to begin “needing” the drug to function normally throughout their day, thereby resulting in physical dependency. (Watch this painkiller addiction video) Common physical signs to look for are:

  • Lethargy, drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils and reduced vision
  • Shallow breathing
  • Needle or track marks on inner arms or other parts of the body from injecting needles
  • Redness and raw nostrils from sniffing heroin
  • Excessive perspiration, shaking, vomiting, chills or other withdrawal symptoms

Use or possession of paraphernalia including syringes, bent spoons, bottle caps, eyedroppers, rubber tubing, cotton and needles are other items to be on the lookout for around a potential user’s environment.

Other Signs and Symptoms

Other symptoms of possible dependence and potential addiction are:

Change in Personality – Changes in a person’s normal behavior can be a sign of dependency. Shifts in energy, mood and concentration may occur as everyday responsibilities become secondary to the need for the relief the prescription provides.

Social Withdrawal – A person experiencing a dependency problem may withdraw from family, friends and other social interaction.

Ongoing Use – Patients that complain frequently about “still feeling pain” or request to extend a prescription long after the medical condition has improved should be monitored closely. Those who gripe about doctors refusing to write a prescription show signs of dependency.

Going to Great Lengths to Obtain Prescriptions – A dependent person may spend large amounts of time driving great distances and visiting multiple doctors to obtain drugs. Preoccupation with a quest for medication demonstrates that the drug has become a top priority.

Change in Appearance – Personal hygiene may diminish as a result of a drug addiction. Significant weight loss may occur and glazed eyes may be evident.

Desensitized Emotions – A dependent person may exhibit an attitude of indifference, a lack of emotion, and demonstrate disinterest in things that previously brought them pleasure.

Blackouts and Forgetfulness – Another clear indication of dependence is when the person regularly forgets events that have taken place and appears to be suffering frequent blackouts.

Defensiveness – Abusers who attempt to hide a drug dependency may lash out and become very defensive if they feel their secret is being discovered.

Painkiller Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is addicted to painkillers and require painkillers addiction treatment, please call our toll free number at 888-371-5713. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about drug abuse and drug treatment.

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