How To Find Healing From a Prescription Pain Medication Addiction?

A elderly man rubbing the back of his neck.

How To Find Healing From a Prescription Pain Medication Addiction?

Many people believe that substance use disorder (SUD) develops from chronic alcohol or illicit drug use. While these substances remain incredibly harmful and tend to contribute to the development of SUD, they are not the only problematic substances worth talking about. It is vital to understand that we are living amid an opioid epidemic. Prescription pain medication addictions are becoming more prevalent now than ever before, with many of these addictions leading to destructive consequences including an increased risk of overdose and death. 

Fortunately, treatment for prescription pain medication addiction is available and recovery is possible. Becoming familiar with this growing epidemic, as well as learning about available treatment options and resources to heal from it, is crucial for an effective recovery. Framework Recovery offers a variety of treatment programs for men seeking recovery from opioid addiction.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a broad class of drugs that are prescribed by doctors to treat pain. These medicines are made in two ways: directly from naturally occurring chemicals in poppy plants or chemicals synthesized in a lab. 

Common prescription opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin) 
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Morphine (Kadian, Avinza)
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

How Do Opioids Work in the Brain?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain.”  When we experience pain, pain messages are sent from the body, through the spinal cord, and into the brain, essentially telling us that something is wrong. 

Our brains and bodies contain natural opioid receptors known as proteins. Opioid medications attach to these proteins on nerve cells throughout the body and activate them. Then, they block the pain messages that would otherwise signal our brain that we are in pain. Additionally, these medications increase dopamine production throughout the body, which produces seemingly pleasurable effects. As a result, an individual who uses opioids may feel motivated to repeat their use to obtain such feelings of pleasure. 

Understanding the Opioid Epidemic

As mentioned previously, we are living amidst a devastating opioid epidemic. This opioid epidemic is characterized by increased opioid misuse followed by increased related overdoses and overdose deaths. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) explains two main issues that have contributed to this growing epidemic:

  • In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.
  • Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.

Prescription Pain Medication Addiction and Misuse 

Although research shows that opioid prescription pain medication is generally safe when used as prescribed and for a short period of time, prescription opioids are still inevitably misused. Drug misuse generally involves taking a medication in a dose or manner other than what was prescribed. This can also involve taking medication with the intent to get high. Furthermore, some doctors prescribe opioids for long-term use, increasing an individual’s risk of developing dependency and addiction.

Repeated misuse of opioids can quickly lead to the development of a prescription pain medication addiction. Other terms for this include opioid use disorder (OUD) or general SUD.

The increase of opioid prescriptions and misuse have contributed to the opioid epidemic due to the high addictive potential of these drugs. When individuals eventually run out of their prescription, they may feel compelled to seek out illicit opioids to feel “normal.” 

Healing From Prescription Pain Medication Addiction

Individuals who struggle with prescription pain medication addictions must first work to identify the underlying causes of their addiction. There are a plethora of risk factors that make one vulnerable to developing addiction aside from being prescribed opioids. In other words, they are not to blame themselves for their drug addiction. Learning to accept that their addiction is out of their control and to forgive themselves for the consequences of their substance use are key steps in fostering a successful recovery. 

Before considering treatment for prescription pain medication addictions, individuals must participate in drug detox. Detoxing from opioids can cause painful withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be fatal. Medically-supervised drug detox helps individuals wean off of their drug use as safely and comfortably as possible. These services also provide 24/7 psychological support, which can be essential during this challenging time.