About a third of all Americans try to manage chronic pain through the use of prescription medication –while these drugs serve a crucial purpose and help reduce sensitivity to pain, many get addicted to these medications. If your doctor prescribed pain medication, it is critical that you only take them as directed to avoid developing an addiction.
If you are worried about your level of dependency on opiate pain medication or believe a loved one may be developing an addiction to them, there are some key warning signs that you should be aware of:
- You think about your medication most of the time: One of the most telling signs of addiction is becoming almost entirely preoccupied with when you can take your next dose and making sure your supply is enough to maintain the habit. Obviously, if you just had a surgical procedure and are experiencing excruciating pain, watching the clock for your next dose may not be out of the ordinary. However, it is not unusual for some become physically dependent on painkillers long after the ailments or symptoms that originally warranted them are gone. Over time, your body will begin to build up a higher tolerance to it, which means you will to take higher doses of it to feel the same effects.
- You are taking more than the amounts your doctor prescribed: If you believe that your level of pain warrants an increased dosage, you need to schedule another visit with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and treatment. You should not increase your dosage without doing so first. If you are going against your doctor’s instructions, it is possible that you have a problem and are developing a harmful dependency on your pain medication.
- You are “doctor shopping”: If you find yourself going to more than one doctor for the same prescription, or you decided to stop working with your doctor because they refuse to write another prescription, this is a big red flag that you could be addicted. There are a fair amount of doctors and facilities out there that are known for being “pill mills,” so if you are seeking them out, or have resorted to lying about losing a prescription, it is time to consider asking for help.
- You are using other sources to obtain painkillers: At some point, you might exhaust your legal options for obtaining painkillers, or you might feel like what you have still is not enough. When you start using other means, such as stealing drugs from a relative or friend, buying drugs from a dealer, or intentionally hurting yourself to get a new prescription, these are all serious warning signs of opiate addiction.
- You have been using painkillers for a long time: Most painkiller addictions start with a genuine need for them. Perhaps you had a surgery, or got injured and needed to soothe the pain. Whatever the initial reason was for taking them, if the pain went away and you continued to crave painkillers, or if you attempted to stop taking the medication and felt yourself getting physically ill, this is a sign of addiction. Painkillers are not designed to be a way of life.
- You are not yourself: People struggling with addiction often become a different version of who they once were, stop taking care of themselves, become less concerned about their appearance, and may even experience intense mood swings and changes in sleeping patterns. If you have noticed any of these changes or feel that you have started to neglect responsibilities, it’s time to ask for help.
If you recognize these signs in yourself or identify them in a loved one, it is time to seek out professional help.
Drug Rehabilitation in Scottsdale
It can be difficult to admit you have a problem, but even more so to continue on the self-destructive path of addiction. If you are struggling with painkiller dependency, seek help from the team at Acceptance Recovery Center in Scottsdale. Our staff is prepared to provide the guidance you need to work toward overcoming your addiction so you can have a fresh start in life.
Let us help you, contact Acceptance Recovery Center today by calling us at .
Dr. Greg Gale has been practicing and providing leadership in the field of psychiatry, substance use, and integrated care in the Phoenix metropolitan area for over 11 years. He joins us from his role as a national medical director overseeing behavioral health, substance use, and integrated care services for Humana Behavioral Health. Previously, he was CMO and VP of Clinical Services at Partners in Recovery, a not-for-profit behavioral health and substance use service organization, which operates five clinics throughout Maricopa County.