Why Are Painkillers Abused?

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Created On: Monday, 21, October 2019
Modified On: Tuesday, 19, November 2019

Pain relief is one of the most common reasons why people go to the doctor in the United States.  Roughly 20% of these patients will receive painkillers or opioids to treat their pain.  Prescribed medications such as pain killers are abused for many reasons.  An abuse problem with these drugs can start with taking a higher dosage than prescribed.  You may start to abuse someone else’s prescription or are simply taking the drug for the euphoric effects.  With chronic abuse of painkiller drugs the chemistry in the brain changes.  Essentially when the tolerance for these drugs starts, the brain cells that have opioid receptors on them gradually become less responsive to opioid stimulation.

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Therefore, more opioids are needed to stimulate the rewards system within the brain.  The euphoric effects created by these drugs are addictive.  An addict becomes dependent on recreating the same effects each time they use painkillers.  However, this cannot be achieved so more drugs are used despite the consequences.  Painkillers are also abused by someone who would be prescribed these drugs.  This is a common problem in the United States.  In fact, prescribing doctors will look for signs of opioid abuse.  It is common for doctors to notice someone using more of the drug or for longer than needed.               

Once you become addicted to them you can’t control your use or cut down.  Painkillers are also abused because the withdrawals from them are painful.  Tolerance for these drugs creates painful withdrawals which prevent many drug users from stopping their use.  An addiction with these drugs can start easily and quickly.  If you are prescribed these drugs you should always follow the directions of the prescribing doctor.  Painkiller abuse is effectively treated with medical detox and inpatient drug treatment.