How does it happen?
To best explain how people get into trouble, let me share an experience I had a number of years ago with a woman, a mother of two, who had a knee operation. She had the procedure and the doctor told her to stay off the leg for a few weeks. It wasn’t a knee replacement; it was a reconstruction following an auto accident.
She was given a prescription for an opiate pain killer. Not all surgeries go as planned, especially when there is lingering pain. She did not handle the pain at all well, so she began to push the limits of the prescription. At first she would take the meds more often than prescribed, which led eventually to her taking two pills instead of one. Even at twice the amount, her pain persisted.
Begins to run out of pills early.
Her abuse of the prescribed drug led to her running out of pills half way through the month, so she had to get the prescription refilled, only the pharmacist said no. She decided to shop for another doctor and get another script. You might have heard talk about a national database for prescriptions.
Her case was the prototypical story of abuse and how people will manipulate the system. Not only did she get another doctor, she got a few. She had to drive to neighboring towns and go so some length to collect her prescriptions, but she managed.
She had already built up tolerance.
What she did not understand at the time was that she had built up a physical tolerance to the opiate. It would take more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect. She had also developed a psychological dependence; so long after the wounds had healed and the knee was at full strength, she had to have her meds.
The drug abuse led to the brain being tricked into thinking that it needed the medication to function. Simply stated, her brain chemistry had changed. Painkillers mask pain, but even when there is no pain, a patient might experience pain and think they need the medication.
Painkiller addiction is a VERY expensive addiction!
Prescription pain medication is expensive. Soon the multiple prescriptions would run out, so she had to look for yet another source for her pills. The street was the obvious choice. People who get prescriptions for pain medications will often use a few, but after the pain goes away they don’t use up the rest of the prescription.
They give the rest away, or some formulate criminal intent and keep refilling the prescription to sell the pills on the open market. They will make a deal with someone to purchase the remaining pills in a prescription at pennies on the dollar. She had no trouble at all finding a dealer who would give her what she wanted only there was no insurance to pay for the pills and the transaction was strictly cash.
The lies and stealing begin
To get the pills, this wife and mother of two actually took money from her children’s piggy bank, sold her jewelry and set up her own drug dealing business. All this activity happened under the nose of her husband, a police officer. Her abuse of the painkillers had progressed to an addiction to opiates and her life unraveled. Of course she was caught. She went into residential drug addiction treatment.
Some intentionally abuse
Sometimes painkiller addiction happens as the direct consequence of intentional abuse. When abused, opiates can give the user a “rush,” a feeling of euphoria. People enjoy this feeling and want to repeat the experience. To achieve this effect they take the drug in ways that were not intended.
A pill might be crushed, then snorted like cocaine and that gives an intense high. The drug might be dissolved and injected, like heroin, thus achieving intensity not possible by merely taking a pill. The problem is the pills cost too much and addicts who have lost their jobs, run through their financial resources as the painkiller addiction sets in and they're living day-to-day may turn to heroin and other street drugs, because they are cheaper.
Only use as
prescribed by reputable doctor to avoid Painkiller Addiction
Regardless of how the addiction starts, people need to understand that opiate painkillers are serious medicines that require close supervision when prescribed. Doctors will do assessments to determine whether or not a person is likely to develop addiction and if it is not possible to prescribe the medication they will find alternative methods to controlling pain.
However, no matter what precautions are put in place, no matter how many times a person is told of the dangers of abusing opiates, some people will not follow instructions. They abuse the drug and that can lead to addiction. Others may just want a thrill and abuse the drug and suffer the consequences. Either way, prescription painkillers can ruin a life and destroy a person’s future.
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