Three Early Warning Signs of Prescription Painkiller Addiction

I can’t think of one instance in which preventing a disorder is harder than managing or recovering from it. Therefore, learning to recognize the early warning signs of prescription medication abuse can help indicate the need to take action before dependency or addiction. There are all sorts of reasons why people abuse prescription medications and many people do not realize that they are becoming dependent on the pills their doctors have given until they are far down the path of abuse. Here are three early warning signs that your prescription pills may be a cause for concern:

  1. Taking medication automatically. Long-term use of opioid pain medication is in most cases not recommended and not effective. Most people who begin using prescription opioids have pain because of an accident, surgery, illness or other condition. One problem with opioid medications is that they can actually heighten feelings of pain when used long term. If you’re on opioids for more than a short period of time, a few days to a few weeks, talk to your doctor about alternative forms of treatment or see a pain specialist.


  1. Using pain medication to feel better emotionally. Those who become addicted legitimately have pain, take the medicine they are prescribed and find that they not only have less pain but they also feel better in other ways. Addicts often think that pain medication helps them sleep, feel more confident, or relieves stress or anxiety. A shift eventually occurs where physical pain has been reduced or eliminated, but because of the positive effects on mood, patients continue to believe they need the drug. This mis-use of the medication puts the user at risk of dependence.


  1. Self-medicating. Do you increase your dose on your own, despite what your doctor says? This is a form of abuse and can lead to addiction. Accidental poisoning is a very real danger and common for those who abuse substances, especially those taking multiple drugs. Tolerance can be a sign of a growing addiction problem.

Talk to your doctor about non-drug alternatives pain therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, yoga or physical therapy. There are great pain management regimens that do not require opioid use.