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Prescription Painkiller Dependence and Medically Assisted Recovery

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Have you ever started taking pain medications only to discover that long after the pain had gone you were still taking the pills out of habit? Over 5.2 million Americans are currently using prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Morphine and Codeine non-medically.

These medications are just a few that fall into the category of Opioids. In the last ten years painkiller abuse has increased over 140% which is higher than any other drug.

Even when some people take drugs for pain properly, it could still lead to dependence. They may have individual differences such as genetic predisposition, history of substance abuse in their family or their body processes a drug differently which can determine its effect. You or someone you care about may be one of those more susceptible to narcotics that are highly effective as well as highly addictive. So, what are some indications you are on your way to dependence?

Drug Dependence

The road to dependence is a seven step process. We start with the first step, recreational or medical use because drugs are effective. In step two we say, “Ahhhh”…pain relief and pleasure and since we are creatures who seek pleasure and avoid pain, we enter step three, repeated use.

Now something begins to happen in our brain and the brain changes. Step four leads us further into dependency where we begin to think, “What might happen if I stop? Will I feel pain again?” Step five causes us to feel afraid of withdrawals and our cravings begin for the drug and the relief it gives us. Advancing into sixth step is inappropriate drug use. Remember, your brain goes through physical changes and these changes continue during the cravings and even after you stop taking the drug.

The seventh step is rationalizing the dependence. This is the critical point. “What decision do I make?…To use or misuse?” Maybe you say to yourself, “If I take three now…I won’t need anything tomorrow.” Guess what happens when tomorrow comes? The cravings get stronger and louder and your willpower and common sense tell you to allow yourself to get into a habit of inappropriate drug use. Now you’re hooked!

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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