Finding out about different painkiller addiction helps you understand whether you or a loved one has a serious problem which requires painkiller rehab. Ordinary painkillers like aspirin and paracetemol have no risk of addiction, but opioid painkillers such as codeine, tramadol and hydrocodone are commonly abused. These are medicines which treat severe pain, but they work in the same way as heroin, and therefore produce similar effects and risks. Drug rehab programs have to offer a combination of physical treatment and counselling in order to effectively tackle an addiction to opioid painkillers.
As prescription medication, painkillers come in pill form and are generally swallowed. However, some users prefer to crush the pills and either snort or inject the drug. If snorted, painkillers are absorbed through the nasal tissue, and if made into a solution and injected they reach the bloodstream directly. Snorting and injecting releases opioid painkillers into the blood much quicker and therefore increase the risk of overdose.
Expectedly, one if the primary effects of painkillers is to remove pain. The drugs do this by binding to the opioid receptors within the brain, spinal cord and intestinal tract and changing how the individual perceives the sensation of pain. By binding to these receptors, opioid painkillers also change the way the individual experiences pleasure, which causes an initial euphoria when the drug is taken. A user will feel warm, relaxed and happy under the influence of the drug.
Opioid painkillers are addictive because the brain adapts to facilitate their use. The chemical addition doesn’t fit in with the ordinary functioning of the brain, so it has to restructure in order to protect its functioning. It braces itself for continued use of the drug, meaning that the user has to take more in order to achieve the same effects. As the problem compounds, the person often feels like they need to take the drug in order to feel normal, and need significantly larger doses to achieve the high they are looking for. The drug becomes an important component of the brain’s functioning, and withdrawing it therefore causes problems.
The main risk of opioid painkillers is that they can depress breathing. If the user takes a very large dose, the respiratory depression can lead to unconsciousness and even death. This is the most common cause of fatal overdose from painkillers. Combining them with other drugs such as alcohol or benzodiazepines (which also suppress breathing) increases the risk of overdose significantly. Liver or kidney failure is a concern when painkillers are taken in high doses or alongside other substances. The drugs can also cause more minor side effects such as drowsiness and constipation.
Withdrawal symptoms from opioid painkillers can be quite severe, which is a major concern for drug rehab centres. Diarrhoea, vomiting, restlessness, joint pain, muscle spasms and cold flashes are common withdrawal symptoms for opioids. These symptoms persist, and can drive many users to relapse when combined with the brain’s craving for the drug. The period of physical withdrawal is very difficult to get through, and any drug rehab program suitable for opioid painkillers will take this into account.
Drug rehab centres prescribe medications in order to manage the symptoms associated with opioid painkiller withdrawal. This makes the person more comfortable whilst they physically overcome their addiction. Professional medical care is essential to ensure that there are no dangerous interactions between treatments. Drug rehab programs will also include counselling, often based on cognitive behavioural therapy, to tackle the root causes of the person’s addiction.
The possible fatal consequences of opioid painkiller addiction should make drug rehab a serious consideration for anybody affected. We can provide you with free advice to ensure you choose the most suitable treatment program for yourself or your loved one. Different drug rehab centres employ different therapeutic models and have varying facilities, so it can be difficult to make the right choice. We will happily explain the options to you and point you in the right direction for treatment, free of charg