Pain pill addiction: Top 10 signs and symptoms
By definition, addiction is psychological
There’s still much misunderstanding about what it means to have the disease of addiction. Some people, even doctors, still believe that physical dependency to a drug is the same thing as addiction. It’s not. You don’t have to be physically dependent to have addiction. On the other hand, you can have physical dependency without having the disease of addiction. This is because addiction is more about the psychological processes that go on in the mind of the addict. There’s an obsession to think about the drug, worry about running out of it, and a compulsion to take the drug, even if it causes problems.
You might be a pain pill addict if…
Many people taking opioid pain pills prescribed by their doctors wonder if they are addicted. Here are a few questions that anyone who is taking prescription medications that are potentially addictive can ask themselves.
10 signs of pain pill addiction
1. Do I take more medication than prescribed? Do I take early doses, or extra doses?
2. Do I take medication in ways it’s not intended? For example, do I snort it, or chew it for faster onset? Do I inject it?
3. Do I get medication from friends, family, or acquaintances because I run out of my prescription pills early?
4. Do I become intoxicated, or high, from my medication? Without telling my doctor?
5 Do I get prescriptions from more than one doctor, without telling them about each other?
6. Do I look forward to my next dose of medication?
7. Do I get impaired from my medication, to the point I’m unable to function normally?
8. Do I take pain medication to treat bad moods, anxiety, or to get to sleep?
9. Do I spend a great deal of time worrying about running out of medication?
10. Do I spend a great deal of time thinking about my medication, and how it makes me feel?
3 more prescription pain med questions
* Do I drink alcohol with medication, even though the pharmacist advised against this?
* Do I use street drugs like cocaine, marijuana, or others?
* Have I driven when under the influence of pills, when I know I shouldn’t be driving?
How do I know if I’m addicted to pain pills?
One “yes” answer to any of these questions is worrisome, though not necessarily diagnostic of addiction. Addiction is easier to diagnose with multiple “yes” answers. Sometimes addiction only becomes apparent over time. This is why doctors need to see patients frequently who are prescribed potentially addicting medication, like pain pill, stimulant, and benzodiazepines.
I think of addiction as a continuum. Some people taking prescriptions may have a few worrisome symptoms, like taking an extra pill occasionally. Perhaps they did this because of a transient increase in pain. Without any other symptoms, I probably wouldn’t diagnose addiction. At the other end of the spectrum, if a patient is crushing pills to inject or snort, I feel confident making the diagnosis of addiction. The in-between patients need careful, in-depth evaluation to decide if addiction is present.
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Photo credit: Bonita Sarita