Prescription Painkiller Addiction and the Detox Process

Doctors are writing more prescriptions for painkillers than at any time in the past. Painkillers are stronger than they have ever been. More people are hoarding expensive prescriptions in their home medicine cabinets. All of this adds up to an unprecedented level of addiction to prescription medications – especially painkillers. Breaking addiction to prescription painkillers will require several steps, but the first step is the detox process.

Detox Need Not be Frightening

Addicts may avoid seeking help because they fear what detox will be like. The body and the mind feel a dependence on the narcotic and imagining what it will feel like to deny themselves the drug can be truly frightening for some. However, detox doesn’t have to be painful or frightening. Keep in mind that reputable detox and rehab facilities are staffed by people who understand the process better than you do and whose sole purpose is to be there to make detox as painless as possible.

Common Prescription Painkiller Withdrawal Symptoms

People who have been taking drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet or Lortab long enough to become physically and emotionally dependent can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Low energy
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Achiness
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Moodiness
  • Confusion
  • Headache

These symptoms may become evident soon after the person stops taking the drug(s), usually worsening for several days and then remain somewhat constant for as long as a few weeks. Detox treatment centers understand just how the process works and stand ready to help patients feel as comfortable as possible throughout.

Making Detox as Comfortable as Possible

During detox there are medicines which can ease the discomfort. Methadone is one such medication which may be used to lessen the pain of withdrawal. In addition there are medications like Suboxene which can help to control drug cravings during detox, rehab and beyond. For those who want to give going "cold turkey" a try, most detox and rehab facilities offer a program for treating withdrawal symptoms individually as they arise.

When You Suspect a Loved One May be Addicted to Prescription Painkillers

If you suspect a loved one may be becoming or is already addicted to prescription painkillers, don’t stand by and do nothing. Start keeping watch over how often the person takes the medication. Say something gently remonstrative such as "did you forget that you only needed this three times per day?"

If the person is taking more medication but complains that their pain has only gotten worse, this could be a sign that they are developing a tolerance for the drug and could signal addiction. Don’t be afraid to mention the potential for addiction. If needed, contact the physician.

It is not unloving to show concern over misuse of prescription pain medication. In fact, ignoring the problem is just the opposite.

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