A Public Health Crisis


Painkiller AddictionPrescription painkiller addiction may be the most significant addiction epidemic the United States has ever seen. The Garden at Lake Worth, a Florida Treatment Center, is here to help! Until very recently, prescription drug abuse was responsible for more fatalities each year than cocaine and heroin combined. Most of these deaths occurred as a result of prescription painkiller misuse. Deaths have gone down due to the government intervening and holding prescribers accountable for their part in the epidemic. The trade-off is, however, that the crackdown has led to a rise in the use of heroin.


Prescription opioid painkillers are commonly used to treat cancer-related chronic pain and other serious pain-related conditions. There are dozens of brand name opioids used to treat pain, including OxyContin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Tramadol®, Fentanyl® and Dilaudid®.


History of Prescription Painkiller Epidemic

A few decades ago, the Food and Drug Administration directed the medical community to focus on the treatment of patients with severe pain. The result was the development of heroin-like medications that block pain receptors in the brain. While these drugs have been incredibly effective, they’ve also proven to be just as addictive and deadly as heroin. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that in 2012 over five percent of Americans ages 12 or older used opioid pain relievers for non-medical purposes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription painkiller deaths increased nearly four-fold among men and five-fold among women between 1999 and 2010.


Long-Term Effects of Prescription Painkiller Addiction

Some of the more common long-term health risks associated with prolonged prescription painkiller misuse include:


  • Liver failure
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sleep disorder
  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression


Ironically, prescription painkiller abuse can also cause a condition called hyperalgesia, which is an abnormally heightened sensitivity to pain.


Recognizing Prescription Painkiller Misuse

If there’s one thing the prescription painkiller crisis has shown us, it’s that the problem knows no identity. Our children, friends, parents and even grandparents are vulnerable. According to recent data, hydrocodone was the drug most commonly prescribed to Medicare recipients in 2013.


If you feel like someone you love is abusing prescription painkillers, you can look for the following signs:


  • Missing prescriptions from medicine cabinets
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Periods of aggression
  • Constant complaints of discomfort
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lying about pill use
  • Preoccupation with taking their next pill
  • Doctor shopping


Once you’ve discovered that a loved one may be abusing prescription painkillers, talk to them immediately about getting help from a qualified and reputable treatment facility.


Treating Painkiller Addiction

The treatment of prescription painkiller addiction is an extremely delicate process. Many users have legitimate medical needs, which must be treated along with the addiction and the physical damage caused by the drug use. Part of treating this condition is identifying ways to treat their chronic pain without the use of such powerful medications. Buprenorphine medications (including Suboxone® and Subutex®) have been helpful in gradually reducing dependency.


Clients with painkiller addictions should consider a thorough medically supervised detox in order to ensure that have the best chance at getting clean. This process usually includes some period of painful withdrawal symptoms, so it’s important that clients have trained medical personnel to make them as comfortable as possible. Once detox is complete, treatment is needed to help patients learn coping strategies and avoid relapse. This is accomplished with the assistance of a qualified therapist. Rehab should include group and individualized counseling, as well as a customized course of supplemental therapies.


Don’t Become a Statistic

You don’t have to let prescription painkiller abuse (or any addiction, like Benzo addiction) destroy your life. The Gardens at Lake Worth is committed to helping you or your loved one overcome pain pill addiction and regain your health. Call us today at 844-357-8422 to start the recovery process. You can do this.