The Prescription Drug Addiction Epidemic: The Truth About Pain Pill Addiction
Pain Pill Addicts
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 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.
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, 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 the access to pain pills is nearly 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. Instead of trying to find a way to relieve the pain naturally or with NSAIDS, 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. Some say the doctors do not receive 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, and with good reason.
So the doctor has prescribed Vicodin or Percocet or Oxycontin for your aching knee and hasn't even done an x-ray to examine the real cause behind your achy knee? This seems to happen more than people realize. The other 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 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. They may go as far as saying "the dog must have eaten 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. 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 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.
"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 actions...do 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 thing...it 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.
© 2011 Nicole Canfield