painkiller dependency

4 Signs Your Loved One Has Become Dependent Upon Painkillers

No one likes to see a loved one in pain any more than they themselves like to be in pain.  It is an unfortunate fact that there are some physical conditions that can cause the individual to suffer from moderate to severe and chronic pain.  Needless to say, such conditions often force the individual to lead a largely sedentary and inactive lifestyle as they seek to cope with their chronic pain.  It is for this reason that painkillers exist, and they do have some value.  Unfortunately, with their benefits also come many potential damaging effects–not the least of which is drug dependence.

Understanding Painkillers

While they are FDA approved and doctor recommended for specific medical use, painkillers are nonetheless drug substances.  In fact, they are among the most potent drug substances currently available.  They work by introducing certain chemicals into the body which interrupt the way the body perceives and communicates pain.  They are not actually able to reach and resolve the source of the pain, but are only useful in suppressing it temporarily.  This is easily understood if you consider taking aspirin after breaking your arm.  The aspirin will not heal the broken bone, but it can suppress the pain of the broken bone for some period of time.  The problem is that if the individual does not take action to heal their broken bone, they may find that they want to continue taking aspirin indefinitely to continue fighting the pain.  And herein lies the problem with painkillers.

When an individual experiences relief as a result of painkiller use, they may simply rely upon these medications indefinitely without conclusively resolving the source of their pain.  However, over time the body can grow to first tolerate, and then depend upon painkiller use.  What this means to the individual is that they no longer feel that taking painkillers is something they can choose, but rather is something they have to do in order to make it through each day.  They have become dependent upon them, and like other drug dependence issues, they will need help in order to resolve this problem.

Signs Your Loved One is Dependent Upon Painkillers

It is not unusual for an individual who is dependent upon painkillers to do and say anything in order to continue feeding this dependence.  Fortunately, this means there will be clear signs of their painkiller dependence–if you look for them:

1. Saying they’ve lost their medication and need more.  It is definitely possible that an individual could lose their medication once or maybe even a couple of times.  However, in most cases individuals are very careful about keeping their medication safe so that they will not lose it.  Losing medication on a regular basis is often a sign that they are actually taking more than their recommended dose and are running out earlier as a result.

2. Complaining that they don’t feel good, or that they feel tired.  Individuals who are dependent upon and therefore taking large amounts of painkillers are often disconnected from life, and may complain that they don’t feel good or that they feel really tired.

3. Participating in doctor shopping.  An individual who is dependent upon painkillers will try to obtain more by doctor shopping–which means going to more than one doctor for the same condition in order to get multiple prescriptions.  They may argue that “this doctor” is a specialist and their prescription is unrelated to another one, but the fact is that multiple painkiller prescriptions can be extremely dangerous, and chances are that their doctors don’t know about each other.

4. Asserting that their painkiller medication is none of your business.  If an individual is not suffering from a dependence upon painkillers, they will likely not be too irritated by your curiosity.  However, someone who is dependent will try to hide this and can become angry–asserting that their medication is none of your business.

If you suspect your loved one is dependent upon painkillers it is important to take immediate action to help them.  You can start by calmly speaking with them about their problem, letting them know that you are aware of it and that you’d like to help.  If this doesn’t work, you may want to consider bringing a professional interventionist into the situation, so that they can help you get your loved one the help they need.

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