The majority of patients who have chronic pain manage it with opiates or opioid painkillers. However, as effective as these medications may be, they are also highly addictive, which puts patients at risk for opioid addiction.
If you take opiates for your pain management, here are early warning signs that may indicate potential addiction:
1. You’re not following your prescription
If you were prescribed opioids as part of your neuropathy treatment in a Los Angeles clinic, for example, it’s common knowledge that you have to stick to your prescription. However, if you start increasing your dosage, taking your meds a lot more frequently, or doing anything that’s not indicated on your prescription, it’s an early sign that you are about to lose control of your medication use. In this case, contact your doctor to help you regain the reins before you spiral into addiction.
2. You’re preoccupied with the thought of your medication
Do you catch yourself preoccupied with the thoughts of your next dose? Are you constantly worrying if you still have enough pills in your medicine cabinet? Constant preoccupation with pain medication is an early warning sign of impending addiction. If you’re already experiencing this every day, seek help from your pain management specialist.
3. You’re still taking the medication even without pain
Opiates are dangerously addictive because they trigger the release of endorphins, which take away the pain and replace it with pleasure. Thus, opioid painkillers can give you a sense of “euphoria,” a feeling that is relatively close to the sensation of being high from illicit drugs.
Opioid addicts continue to take medication even if they’re not in pain (or long after the pain has passed) to trigger the pleasure centers in their brains again and again. Hence, if you’re starting to crave painkillers despite not having any pain, it’s a sign that you may be addicted.
4. You’ve resorted to shady sources of medication
Once you start misusing medication, you may resort to getting your fill from other sources when your supply runs out. This is a red flag that may mean you’re heading into addiction–if you’re not already addicted. If you start ordering meds online, taking other people’s prescriptions, or buying medicine from unauthorized sources, go to a physician immediately.
5. You notice behavioral changes
Are you more irritable than usual? Do you lash out on others uncharacteristically? Have you started to neglect yourself in terms of hygiene and nutrition?
Changes in behavior are starking indicators of addiction. So once your preoccupation with medication starts affecting your health, your relationships, your sleeping patterns, and other important aspects of your life, it’s crucial that you seek treatment as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may fall into a downward spiral that can ruin your life entirely.
Recognizing opiate addiction starts within one’s self. If you take opiates to manage your pain, watch out for these warning signs of impending addiction. Remember that early detection is key to effective treatment. And if you halt addiction in its tracks early on, the better you can overcome it.