Warning Signs You May Be Addicted to Painkillers - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on August 24, 2016

Warning Signs You May Be Addicted to Painkillers

Warning Signs You May Be Addicted to Painkillers

Crozer-Keystone psychiatrists can help with
addiction and proper medication management.

Many people worry that taking prescription narcotic painkillers will lead to addiction. If your doctor prescribes medication to treat your pain and you take it as directed, you should be fine. However, some people do develop an addiction.

Here are addiction warning signs to look out for if you’re taking painkillers.

You Think a lot about Your Medication

One of the first and most tell-take signs of an addiction to painkillers is becoming preoccupied with when you can take your next dose and whether you have enough.

If you’ve just started recovery from surgery or dental work and are in pain, it’s natural to worry about when you can take your next dose. However, if these thoughts have persisted for a while, it’s possible you’ve become dependent on the medication.

It’s important to note that dependency and addiction are not the same thing. Being physically dependent on a medication means your body has built up a tolerance to it, meaning you may need higher doses of the drug for the same effect.

An addiction is more than a physical problem – if you’re addicted to something, you keep using it even though it’s causing problems at work or school, with your family, or in your social life.

You’ve Been Using Painkillers for a Long Time

Most people start taking pain medication because something hurt, whether it was an injury, surgery or chronic pain. When the pain goes away, your doctor will advise you to stop taking the drug.

However, if you’re still using painkillers long after the pain should have gone away, that’s a sign you may need help. If you’re taking narcotic painkillers because you like the way they make you feel or because you’ve started having cravings for them, rather than to relieve pain, those are signs you have a problem.

You Take Different Amounts than Prescribed

The single best way to manage your use of pain medications is to use them as directed, which includes the dosage your doctor prescribed.

Warning signs of an addiction are thinking your doctor doesn’t understand your pain level or that you should take it whenever you need to, even if that isn’t what he or she ordered. Stretching out the time between doses or taking less than the prescribed dose so you can take more later are also signs you may have a problem.

You “Doctor Shop”

Going to more than one doctor for the same prescription, looking for a new doctor who will write you another prescription, seeking out doctors known for overprescribing, lying about losing your prescription, and telling doctors different things to get medication are all red flags.

You Try to Get Pain Meds from Other Sources

If you feel like you don’t have enough pain medication and try to get more or stock up, that’s a signal of the possibility of an addiction.

Some ways people do this is by ordering drugs online, stealing other people’s prescription drugs, buying other people’s prescription drugs, stealing prescription pads from doctors’ offices, hurting yourself so you can go to an emergency room for a new prescription, or buying drugs on the street.

You Get Angry if Someone Tries to Talk to You about It

Feeling defensive or irritated when friends or family try to talk to you about how you’re using your medication is another sign you may be in too deep with your painkillers.

You’re Not Yourself

A common sign of any addiction is not taking care of yourself the way you used to or if you are less concerned about your appearance and personal hygiene.

Feeling moodier than usual, changes in your eating habits and sleep, and stepping back from responsibilities like paying your bills, taking care of your home, performing at or showing up to work are other signs of an addiction.

If you’re ignoring your loved ones, responsibilities and life in general, it’s time to get help.

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