It is estimated that more than 32 000 individuals in the UK alone are addicted to, or are abusing, some form of painkiller. In the past strong painkillers such as Vicodin were only prescribed for individuals in extreme pain, such as cancer patients; nowadays, some doctors prescribe these strong painkillers to migraine sufferers. Individuals who continue to take painkillers even when their pain has subsided might require therapy or counselling.
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About Painkiller Addiction
Painkiller addiction usually begins when an individual is prescribed a certain painkiller for real pain or a real injury. This prescription is then abused, often because the patient develops a psychological need for the painkiller; they believe the pain will reappear without the drugs, and some will experience an increased sensitivity to pain. In 70 per cent of cases, individuals who abuse painkillers receive the prescriptions from family members or friends.
Once a psychological dependence has occurred, a physical dependence will result, especially if the individual is taking opioid painkillers. Physical symptoms of addiction include anxiety, diarrhoea, muscle spasms, excessive sweating, and unexplained tearing of the eyes. Vomiting and headaches are also common symptoms of physical withdrawal. Individuals abusing opioid painkillers may fear stopping because of the pain associated with opiate withdrawal.
It is important for the addict to realize that their dependence on the drug is not their fault and that no one blames them. This is not a mental weakness and certainly isn't a moral weakness. Overcoming this addiction will require strength and support.
Treatment Of Painkiller Addiction
Individuals who are addicted to painkillers will require counselling, therapy, and inpatient treatment. Depending on the severity of the addiction, detoxification will occur under the supervision of medical professionals. It is not medically recommended for addicts to stop the drug cold turkey, as this can result in serious withdrawal symptoms such as chills, nausea, vomiting, body aches, cravings and abdominal pain. Detoxification will be overseen by a professional, and can last anywhere from several hours to several weeks. After the detoxification process, it is recommended that the patient stays in an inpatient facility for at least 28 days in order to receive further treatment, counselling and therapy. Depending on the type of painkiller that the individual was taking, on average inpatient treatment will last anywhere from 1 month to 3 months, as physical and psychological symptoms can persist even after the body's detoxification.
In severe cases, addicts will be given a different drug in order to reduce the withdrawal symptoms. For example, methadone might be prescribed to individuals who are addicted to opiates, as it will stop one's cravings for the opiates. Again, this will only occur in an inpatient environment where administration can be controlled.
Post Rehabilitation Of Painkiller Addiction
Outpatient treatment is strongly recommended, as the patient will learn how to avoid a relapse. Support groups, psychological counselling and pain management courses will follow. As many individuals became addicted to painkillers because of chronic pain, therapy will guide these individuals in how to safely and healthily manage this pain.
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