When people realize they've become hooked on opiate pain killers, they may feel somewhat troubled, but not too concerned as long as they're receiving prescriptions from a trusted physician. Surely the doctor wouldn't continue renewing the prescription if taking the drugs was any sort of problem.
However, at some point, the doctor is likely to end the prescription, since the drugs are not intended for continuous use. The patient then may approach another doctor for help. If this doesn't work, the individual commonly turns to friends, relatives, the Internet or the street to find the drugs illegally -- or to get a substitute, such as heroin.
If you're in circumstances like this, don't avoid seeking help from an addiction treatment center. Your problem is not uncommon.
Opiate Prescriptions & Addiction
Chronic pain is nothing new. People develop chronic pain for a variety of reasons, such as osteoarthritis, autoimmune disorders and lingering effects after an injury. Decades ago, when patients needed pain relief medication on a long-term basis for these problems, they usually received prescription-strength over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen. Opiate prescriptions were reserved as shorter-term solutions for more severe pain, such as that caused by terminal cancer, surgical procedures and fractured bones.
As doctors increasingly prescribed opiates on a longer-term basis, more people began to become addicted to these powerful substances. In addition, even patients who originally received a one-time or short-term prescription round of painkillers sometimes become dependent, leading them to seek more of the pills.
Opiates not only eliminate pain, they create a sense of euphoria that is very compelling. This is a main reason people become dependent on substances such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Opiate addiction has become prevalent in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control calls it an epidemic. Some 44 U.S. residents die from overdosing on prescription pain medication every single day, according to the CDC. That's more than 16,000 per year. Emergency rooms treat nearly 7,000 people every day for problems related to opiate painkillers.
Research from the Mayo Clinic has found that a full 27 percent of patients who receive a short-term prescription for opiates progress to obtaining ongoing or occasional prescription renewals. People with a history of substance abuse, including use of nicotine, are more likely to continue using opiates after the short-term prescription ends.
How Treatment Centers Help
Residential opiate treatment centers assist clients through detoxification from opiates under medical supervision. After the detox process, you would begin the stabilization phase, beginning to live without reliance on prescription pain medication.
The initial recovery phase involves regular counseling sessions with psychologists or other mental health professionals. You'll begin to understand what caused the dependence on opiates and learn tools to avoid relapse. Group sessions are also helpful, allowing peers to learn from one another. The center provides 24-hour support from knowledgeable staff members.
When a person is ready to leave the center and return to regular life, he or she is encouraged to continue counseling sessions and meetings with peer groups as support systems.
What You Can Do Now
It can be scary to think about no longer taking opiate pain killers and also to think that you may be at risk of overdosing. In addition, it can feel embarrassing to admit that you need help. Nevertheless, once you take that step of contacting a treatment center, you are on the road to living life fully once again. It's empowering to finally be free of the need to take opiate drugs and to spend so much time figuring out where to get them and how to afford them.
You can choose an opiate treatment center near you or on that's located a good distance away if you feel that you would progress better away from home. Contact one of those treatment centers and take the first step toward recovery.
Click here for more info on getting the help you need for recovery.