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Prescription pain reliever abuse is a problem

Chances are if you have ever had major surgery or experienced an accident that landed you in the hospital you have been prescribed painkillers. While opioids are very effective at helping to eliminate pain, people can quickly begin to depend on them. As their tolerance grows, so does their need and consumption. Drug addiction is a complex disease and quitting takes more than willpower. Often the constant use of drugs can change the brain’s chemistry, making it all the more difficult to stop using.

Opioids: a different class of drug

Heroin, codeine and morphine are natural products of opium. Opioids are known for their addictive nature. People often begin taking these painkillers responsibly and from there progress into abuse. The drug is readily absorbed in the stomach and small intestine and then passes through the liver before finally entering the bloodstream. Depending on the drug and how it is ingested, the peak effects take place within 10 to 90 minutes. However, no matter what way the painkillers are consumed, once a person begins to depend on opioids the transformation in their behavior is evident.

Recognizing overuse

Besides the physical changes associated with opioid abuse, like constricted or small pupils and drowsy appearance, lifestyle and behavioral changes are typical. Some of the following symptoms include:

  • Decreased attention to personal appearance
  • Neglecting school or work
  • Extreme changes in mood
  • Not maintaining close relationships with friends or family
  • Anti-social and/or secretive attitude
  • Habitual lying

There is no instant fix

Addicts are often reluctant to admit they have a problem. Denial of the issue can accompany empty promises to change. As with many other chronic diseases, treatment is not a cure-all. Addiction is treatable and manageable. By combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy, patients are more likely to become sober. Seeking professional help like an interventionist or a rehabilitation program that offers individualized therapy options to treat not only the addiction but existing co-occurring problems is the best path to lead to recovery.