The Prescription Drug Addiction Epidemic: The Truth About Pain Pill Addiction

Heroine. Crack. Meth. All some of the hardest narcotics to hit our streets in the history of detrimental drugs. But in more recent years, a new face of narcotics has emerged from behind the scenes...and would you believe it? They're prescribed by doctors and medical professionals on a daily basis! You most likely even know someone or are close with someone who is addicted to prescribed medications...maybe you don't even realize that they are addicted to pills. You will find out soon enough. Prescription drug addicts cannot hide their pill addiction for long, as it slowly but surely eats away at their sanity, their bodies, and their lives.

The Pain Pill Addiction

There is an epidemic sweeping over the nation, the epidemic of prescription pill addiction. This pain pill addiction epidemic is far worse than an epidemic of the flu could ever be...and why? Because pain pill addiction keeps its victims sick for years and years.

Most pain pill addicts begin their run with pain pill addiction simply from being prescribed a pain pill or an anxiety pill for legitimate medical reasons - either they have had a surgery or some other pain that the doctor felt warranted a pain pill prescription for numbing the pain, or the person could not deal with anxiety attacks and Xanax or some other anti-anxiety pill was prescribed. Though some people have gotten addicted to anti-anxiety pills, research suggests that the pain pill addiction is much stronger and wide-spread.

The major issue is that the access to pain pills is so wide open! For example, I know at least two people who had merely gone to the doctor with complaints of random body-aches and the first thing the doctor did was hand over a pain pill prescription for Vicodin! I am no doctor, but it truly makes me wonder where these doctors' intentions are lying. Instead of trying to find a way to relieve the pain naturally, they would rather write out a pain pill prescription and send the patient on their way. I wondered for awhile if doctors actually acquire a kickback or commission of some sort from the pharmaceutical companies in exchange for pushing the pain pill prescriptions on their patients. Upon further investigation, the answer is not so clear (ironically)! Some say that the doctors do not receive any monetary compensation for prescribing certain pain pills, while others claim that doctors receive at least perks from the pharma companies. Perks such as tickets to amusement parks, free meals, gift cards, etc. Strangely enough, I cannot find any solid resources on this theory, though. I guess if doctors are receiving kickbacks, they do not advertise it to many!

So the doctor has prescribed Vicodin or Percocet (or even worse Oxycontin) for your aching knee and hasn't even do an x-ray to examine the real cause behind your achy knee? This seems to happen more than most people even realize. The other very likely beginning to pain pill addiction is the surgery story. You were in a car accident and had to have numerous surgeries and after these surgeries were over and your body was pretty much healed, the use of pain pills continued. The reason for this was the way the pain pills made you feel...and then the lying began. Lying to yourself and lying to your family and friends, and most likely your doctor as well.

At this point, the pain pill addict has become totally dependent on these pain pills and is probably taking more than the prescribed amounts every day. If the addiction is really strong, the person may run out of pain pills and begin to blame others for their missing pills...going as far as saying "the dog must have taken them" or "who stole my pills?" and so forth. Other signs of a pain pill addiction can include the addict falling asleep at sporadic times. This can be especially dangerous if the addict also smokes, as the cigarette can fall from their hands and light the person or their surroundings on fire (yes, this has happened). Depression and anger can also be signs of a pain pill addiction, specifically when the person may have run out of pills and they are experiencing miniature withdrawals. Sickness such as stomach issues, vomiting and diarrhea, are also signs that a person may be addicted to pills and withdrawing between pain pill benders.

I have heard of some pain pill addicts taking up to thirty pills in a day! How is this possible? Over time, an addict's body will begin to need more and more pills in order to achieve the high that they are craving. It's the same concept with crack and heroine and other street drugs. What usually happens when a pain pill addict runs out or is running low on their pill stash? They scramble to get more. The first thing they'll do is probably call their doctor and make up some excuse as to why they need their pill refill early...sometimes this works but some doctors start to catch on to the lies and will limit the amount of refill prescriptions given. If they can't get more from their doctor, the next place to call is the pharmacy...and then it's on to whomever in their family or friends may have some sort of pain pill that they can beg for. And if that's a no-go, they may even resort to stealing pain pills from others' homes. I have seen every one of these actions from a pain pill addict.

It is really a sad scenario to see a loved one or friend going through this. The pain pill addict becomes just a sloppy shell of their old selves. They become dependent on drugs that were originally prescribed by their doctors and have also become dependent on family members for survival. Unfortunately what these pill addicts do not realize is that their actions have an effect on the people around them. The people around them may be depressed, physically and mentally exhausted, and losing hope in general. But the addict doesn't care, because the addict can't see anything but pills pills pills. Some people remain addicted to pills for years, some ending their lives by a predicted overdose. The lucky (or blessed) addicts somehow break out of their state of denial and try to get help on detoxing and separating from the drugs.

The life-long addicts may have a routine as to how to get their pills...and that routine could include doctor shopping or even pain management clinic hopping.

"Pain Management"

"Doctor shopping" also known as polypharmacy is a very common occurrence amongst pain pill addicts and is especially common in the state of Florida. In fact, we were taught in school that Florida has the highest rate of pain pill addicts in the country. This usually includes the downward spiraling force of the pain management clinics. These clinics state that they aid in relieving chronic pain, but in reality all they do is prescribe more pills to a patient. Usually they offer no other method of pain relief. What happened to other therapeutic methods of pain relief? These clinics are especially easy for addicts to acquire the fix that they so crave.

Some addicts at their worst begin taking the pills in other manners, such as crushing up the pills and snorting them or even shooting them up. This is addiction at the most dangerous level. Many addicts end up in the hospital for overdosing or even for infections due to shooting up the drugs.

It is really scary to me to see how much this epidemic has spread throughout the country...I wonder if other countries have the same problems, but for some reason I doubt it. Our healthcare system is horrible in the aspect that true solutions to medical problems do not seem to be offered so much as a prescription for a pill is handed over. Other ways that this disease has overpopulated include the fact that many teenagers and adults too have taken the pills as a recreational thing (partying with pills) and then wound up addicted to them. Outside of the walls of the doctors' offices and Pharmacies, there are people dealing out pills to teen and adult addicts alike. I know that in my hometown in Maryland, there have been huge busts by the police on restaurants and bars that had pill selling occurring right in their facilities.

More than one person who is close to me has experienced pain pill addiction in one form or another. We have to work together to stop this epidemic from becoming a pandemic. How do we do that? If you notice the signs that a loved one or friend is becoming addicted, take the appropriate not enable them by helping them get more pills. You might also want to mention it to their closest of kin (such as a spouse or parent). There is a lot of help out there to help addicts safely detox and also rehabilitate themselves. If rehab isn't an option, there are many supportive online resources to aid in getting through a "cold turkey" method. Withdrawals from pills are inevitable and are usually equivalent to a bad virus. Stomach problems such as diarrhea and vomiting will occur, as well as chills and mental struggles. If you can, be supportive to the addict by offering words of encouragement through the struggle of withdrawal.

Pain pill addiction is not a light is not something to mess around with. It will break down your life and who you thought you were, it will destroy the addict's mind and body and relationships...possibly even ending fatally.

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Jane Hurley 2 years ago

Former addict in the US,

I am glad you found a medication combination that works for you.

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Jane Hurley 2 years ago

Actually Kitty has some good points. We do need to watch out for people becoming addicted. I am not a doctor and don't know what it's like to work under such scrutiny. However, at the end of the day, care of the patient is the most important factor. Doctors need to band together to fight this intrusion into their practices. I have had personal experiences with addicts so I am not in the dark about this issue. Every human is different so it's not up to me to say who should take what medications. I do agree that precautions should be taken so people can avoid addiction. On another note, I once abused Xanax. I don't have that craving now, but it might rear it's ugly head in the future. I don't think there is a "cure" for addiction" just methods to control it or keep it from happening. Someone once told me that alcoholism, pill addiction, gambling addiction, or whatever your problem might be is just a symptom. Once you quit, you have to deal with what made you get high to begin with. What is more harmful to society?-- a person not receiving adequate medical care or having an addict among the general population. The answer is not easy and it's not up to be to be the final decision-maker.

To Former addict in the U. S.-- I am glad you found medication that worked for you. To me, a person that takes norcos for their intended use does not make that person an addict or less of a person. Getting blasted out of his mind would to avoid problems. Good luck you to and GodSpeed.

Nirvana 1952 2 years ago


Thank you for your kind words and praise. You have summed up the problem very succinctly and eloquently yourself

Former addict in the U.S. 2 years ago

I was one of those patients who was receiving 240 10mg norcos a month. I MPVED TO THE PHILIPPINES where narcotic prescriptions are very difficult to get and guess what? IM GETTING ALONG FINE WITH IBUPROFEN AND AN OCCASIONAL TRAMADOL both of which are available without a prescription. Moving here saved my life.

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Jane Hurley 2 years ago

Nirvana, you have not posted in a while so I don't know if you'll read this. I wanted to praise you for your compassion and intelligence. I agree with you on many of the things you spoke about. I feel that a person has every right to not take pain meds when he might need them along with refusing other types of treatments. Likewise, a person has the right to take pain meds and undergo other treatments to help his medical condition. Throughout human history, there have been groups who were hell-bent on trying to control others' lives through legislation. Most things in life are cyclical. In about 25-30 years, the medical community will swing the other way. I hope it's not that long. But until then, people have to band together. I am not a pain patient but have seen the discrimination others face as a result of being one. It's atrocious. Like most other forms of prejudice, this treatment has a trickle-down effect that will harm society as a whole in the end just like drug addiction affects society in a detrimental manner. I live in Texas and can see the opposing sides to this. We can pray, which is great, but action is needed to put more control back into the hands of doctors and patients.

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kittythedreamer 2 years ago from the Ether Author

Jane - That's fine. You can disagree, but the facts remain. Thanks for reading!

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Jane Hurley 2 years ago

In addition, in relation to what pain meds and anti-anxiety meds are use to treat, ANTI-ANXIETY MEDS ARE WAY MORE POWERFUL. This comes from talking to pain sufferers who are not addicts, pain sufferers who are also addicts, and addicts who are not pain sufferers.

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Jane Hurley 2 years ago

Pain meds were invented to ease or eradicate pain. I am not sure about some "evil conspiracy" among the pharmaceutical companies, but the basic intent is to provide relief from pain caused by a stimulus or stimuli. From my understanding, "addiction" is a POSSIBLE side effect. I will never understand the need of some people to lump all people suffering from pain into one category because of the actions of a few within that group (pain patients who abuse their meds). Maybe these people feel the need to control. I honestly believe that are also people who want to remove or severely limit pain medications due to loved ones having addictions. I can understand this, but don't agree with it. Once it's pain pills. what's next? I recently read about a father who has a sick daughter in Florida and his words still haunt me. He said we are all one step away from immense suffering. This does not have to happen. People need to band together and fight this. Unless you have been through an experience such as dealing with chronic pain, how dare you have the audacity to even think you know what it's like.

PaulasPixels 2 years ago

Kitty- I found your article to be true to the best of your knowledge. I am a person struggling with prescription narcotics being written for me to take for over 13 years. I admit I am dependant on these medications to get through life now without being in chronic pain from fibromyalgia and degenerative bone disease. Every doctor I have went to since moving three times has "just written me a script and basically told me not to get addicted" just as you mentioned in your article. As I write this, I'm in tears thinking what this has done to my body, mind and spirit. I am just a shell of the person I once was and just knowing that makes me cry even harder. Just about everything you wrote about in your article is so very true! Thank you for writing this!

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copywriter31 2 years ago from Port Neches

I agree with the info contained here, but I think you omitted one item. Not every person prescribed Vicodin, Percocet, etc. will become addicts. In fact, a very small percentage follow this path. These opiates are perfectly safe for many medical and dental procedures. I only state the above because your article suggests that MOST people will become drug addicts once they've used these perfectly safe prescription drugs. Alcohol, too, is a drug - most people drink moderately, a comparatively small percentage graduate to full blown alcoholism.

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Flossy123 3 years ago

Kumari - At some point, you will realize that the cost of taking the meds outweighs whatever they were initially prescribed. At that point, contact your dr. obtain advise to ween yourself off of all meds. Then, allow yourself time to "get back to your normal body", and see how you feel. I guarantee you, you will suffer and want to take the pill(s) to feel better. Don't. You can do this. This will be the only way to get yourself back. It took me two years plus years to remove pain meds from my body. Every dr. I went to said "why" do you want to ween yourself, what will you do. We have found the only medication that works for you. Now, I am furious when I have to see the dr. and watch the catering van come out of the "large" bldg. that houses many drs., as they just finished their free breakfeast/lunch from the pharm. rep. This catering is done "daily". You can do this.

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kittythedreamer 3 years ago from the Ether Author

I am so sorry to hear that, kumari. I hope things get better for you.

kumari narayanan 3 years ago

i am from india, and i have been prescribed sleep pills in my early 20s, and the doctor did not tell me it is addictive and it is not for prolonged use. time and again different GPs hav prescribedme the same meds, antiepressant without telling me. now i am 56 years still taking sleeping pillsand antidepressants and doctorshere continue to prescribe it indiscrimately. I can't hold a job, lonely, alienated, subject to physical abuse by myyounger siblings and their families.

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Chris731 3 years ago

Continued, Sorry ; majority of use have such a hard, very hard time with our doctor and the prescriptions that she is afraid to write because of these bad apples. It is so unfortunate for the people that have to suffer and feel like we have to hide our medications out of fear that someone might help themselves or see how others look at us when we are dropping off and picking up our medications from the pharmacist. I personally have had to fire several employees because of my medications. Which obviously I don't take in front of people unless it's unavoidable such as it was in my situation, where I had a few employees in my truck in the last big snowstorm. I hate taking medication "IT SUCKS" but if not for these medications I would not be able to work, run my business, take care of my son, cut my yard, etc. I have serious back problems, like my L-4 and S-1 are completely missing, not to mention the 4 other diagnoses that I can't begin to type out. I go every 2 years to the Neurosurgeon with a fresh set of MRI's and have done so for the past 7 years, and have been given the same odds of surgery being of any use to me. I am not good with 70% that my back would stay the same or be worst, 30% maybe better. So what is one to do? I was given choices with my 45% permanent disability, either stay home in pain at 32 years old or take medicine and work until something comes along surgery related. I am now 41 and I chose the medicine, and glad I did! I am able to work play sports with my 9 year old son, and run around with my 6 Akitas, not to mention help out my mother since my father died 3 years ago and now with both my G. Parents living up here in Maryland from Florida now, they are both 97. It is really a bad stigma that we that "NEED" these medicines get and have to live with on top of the issues with the insurance, doctors and their fears, and then the responsibility that comes with these types of medicines that we have to deal with. I just put my Fiancé out of our house, we have been together in the same house in Montgomery County for 8 years, and she was stealing my medicine for the past few months. I sent her to her parents house, I have always told her that I would not stand for anyone asking, bothering me, and most of all stealing my medicine... I again don't want to be "RESPONSIBLE" for someone's death over these medicines either. I am sorry to ramble on to you, I never respond to these blogs. I just today was talking to my doctor about this subject and how all of the people like myself will have to pay the consequences and deal with writing our congress, MD health board, and the insurance committee, all because of the stigma that is following these medications because of the bad apples out there both patients and doctors, and I came across your blog. Quite funny actually; when I first read you blog I was so set that I was going to give you an earful. Then I decided to read some of your other blogs first, and came to read that you are not bad, I liked several of your postings. I thank you for (seeing) listening. Terribly in pain from Maryland C.R

Chris 3 years ago

Kitty, I do agree with you about the drug addicts and how they are when in need of getting high, especially the ones that abuse and take prescription drugs. I feel that they should take those people and put them somewhere to rot, even worst for the ones that abuse the system and lie to these doctors to get these pills and sell them. The ones that take their medicine to get a high and continuously make early appointments, failed toxicology tests, file false claims of thefts on their medications that clearly they don't need and hold up the people that are in real pain while they cry and complain to the doctors that their toxicology report was wrong, well they especially should just vanish.. Because of these people, which is "NOT" the majority; that the people like myself and the majority of us that are in need of these medications have such a

bertha 3 years ago

Man, you all have way too much time on your hands

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twig22bend 3 years ago

Nirvana, apology Accepted! Inform us and educate us as to what you know about this situation. Let's not fight but educate. Love and peace to you.

nirvana1952 3 years ago

Oddly enough, bobmonger, I have known junkies. had a lover who overdosed and died from mainlining dilaudid. He got the script from a doctor who should not have given it to him too. However, he was determined to kill himself and would have only found another way. This was in 1976. I have known junkies and alcoholics and people suffering from all kinds of pain, mental and physical.

Sorry I was so obnoxious, twig22bend. I did go overboard.

Bob, pain is not curable in all cases. Just because you identify the reason for thecpain does notvmean that it is fixable. That is what chronic pain is. Pain for which there isn no cure. Pain that does not go away no matter what is tried.

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twig22bend 3 years ago

Whoa!!! Nirvana. I have not mentioned people with chronic pain or any type of diagnosed pain causing condition, nor any medications. I was clearly speaking of abuse of unwarranted pain medications.

Thanks for being so down on me for voicing my opinion. No need to attack. We all learn more by sharing and educating each other. Your post was well taken, even so.

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BobMonger 3 years ago from Carlin, Nevada USA

I'm guessing Nirvana hasn't ever met a of junky. My problem has been and always will be the MD who'll pass out pills because that's a lot easier (and cheaper) than treating the condition causing the pain. "...oh, oh, the damage done!"

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