Painkillers are prescribed to give people relief after a major surgery or while struggling through a chronic illness. While they aim to improve the quality of life of those in pain, they are often misused or abused causing a physical dependence that becomes an addiction. There are many different kinds of opioid painkillers, but they all work on the body in generally the same way. Painkillers block nerve receptors in the brain that are responsible for creating pain. Starting treatment for a painkiller addiction is a very difficult and uncomfortable endeavor because not only does a person have to fight against withdrawal symptoms, but they have to confront the pain they used the medications to mask.
Seeking Treatment: Agreeing to seek out treatment for a painkiller addiction is a brave step towards a healthier lifestyle. The first step in the treatment process is to find a medical professional or counselor that the patient feels comfortable with. Together, they will work on building a treatment plan that best suits the needs of the individual and will give them the best chances of a successful recovery.
Detoxification: The first in the long list of steps to be taken before reaching sobriety, is the process of detoxification. The stigmas behind detoxing and withdrawal symptoms, sometimes prevent those with addictions from seeking help. Many fear that the process will be too painful or too difficult to endure. While detoxing is uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous, it should not keep someone from pursuing a drug-free lifestyle.
Detoxification is the body’s process of releasing the toxins left over from drug use. Withdrawal symptoms is the body’s reaction and the craving of more chemicals.
Some symptoms of painkiller withdrawal are:
The symptoms of painkiller withdrawal can be painful, uncomfortable and can lead people to relapse back into drugs to make it stop. Rehabilitation centers can be a great resource for people going through detoxification. They are equipped with the staff and the proper tools to safely and painlessly finish detoxification. There are low-risk medications that can aid in easing withdrawal symptoms but these should only be administered by medical professionals.
Utilizing therapy: Luckily, there are many options for people seeking treatment for painkiller addiction. Patients should work with their doctors and counselors to utilize a combination of pharmacological and behavioral interventions.
The most common medications used to treat an addiction to painkillers are:
Methadone and Buprenorphine: Agonists that slowly trick the brain into thinking it is getting the chemicals in painkillers without receiving any of the harmful effects. They also reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Methadone can come in several different forms but can only be prescribed through an approved outpatient treatment or program. Buprenorphine can be prescribed by certain doctors for independent, daily use if the patient is thought to be in stable condition.
Naltrexone: Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the action of opioids completely and will not give the person any effects if they take painkillers again. It is very effective in preventing relapse.
Pain relievers: Using mild pain relievers alongside other treatment options can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Medications should always be prescribed and monitored by a medical professional. When used safely, these medications can be used to prevent addiction and relapse for long periods of time.
Behavioral intervention is non-pharmacological therapy that attempts to cure addiction by addressing the mental and emotional factors that lead to drug use.
Psychotherapy is a blanket term that can mean several different methods of talk therapy. Psychotherapy explores the behaviors and feelings of those who suffer from addiction and aims to change them to yield more positive decisions. Addiction is a disease that can take over people’s lives but psychotherapy can help people take theirs back. Psychotherapy can be one-on-one with trained medical professionals and the patients or in groups with a leader and peers. It is a popularly used and effective treatment but it is most effective when used in congruence to medication and group therapy/ contingency management. There are many different types of Psychotherapy including cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: is a structured psychotherapy program that helps patients identify the negative behaviors and feelings in their life and replaces them with better habits. Sessions are directly personalized to a patient’s current problems and creates realistic manageable goals to solve their issues. Participants are often given “homework” or a specific goal to accomplish and told to report back to the counselor with the results. This type of therapy helps addiction sufferers realize that there can be more to life than their addiction and to find new coping strategies to solving hardships.
Support group therapy is one of the oldest and most widely successful forms of therapy. They are often sponsored by churches, rehabilitation centers or hospitals. Support groups create an open, judgement-free environment where peers can encourage one another and speak about their struggles.Studies have shown that is a person undergoing treatment becomes active in a support group, they have a better chance of overcoming their addiction. Many support groups use the 12-step program and a foundation for treatment. Each step in the 12-step program involves achieving a milestone that will bring a person closer to living addiction-free. It is often a long-term process that starts with admitting that a person is powerless against their addiction. Participants will try to recognize a power greater than themselves and surrender themselves completely to that power.
The Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator is a service that allows you to anonymously find a addiction treatment facility in your area by simply putting in your address / city or zip code. If you’re not ready to speak to someone face-to-face about your addiction, perhaps an online addiction forum would work out better for you. Chat With Others – Addiction Forums