Narcotic Painkillers: The Pain They're Really Treating?

"Narcotic painkillers have become among the most widely prescribed drugs in the nation."*  As an addiction counselor I know it's a huge problem. I see clients in my office that innocently begin using pain medication like vicidin for a root canal or another type of surgery and then develop a dependency problem. But, I see many more that get into using pain meds because they're around. They're in their parents medicine cabinets. Their friends hand them out at parties to get high. If someone has addiction in their family tree or a history of abuse or trauma, it makes them particularly vulnerable to developing a problem.

Let's face it. Pain meds are taken to relieve physical pain, yes, but they're also taken to relieve emotional stress and upset and just to get high - have fun.  As a teen I tried nearly every substance there was to try - except heroin - and am glad the oxy's weren't around back then.  Very addictive and very dangerous, especially when oxycontin (time-released) is chewed and a full dose is delivered, which is what may be behind people in L.A. sitting down on the street and dying.

Here's what we know: narcotic painkillers are being abused and many people are dying from overdosing on these medications.  The l.A. Tomes reported that coroner's records from 2006-2011 listed 1,766 deaths in Southern California where the sole contributing cause was precriptions drugs.  

 I have two family members that have or are battling with vicidin or oxycontin abuse. All addiction is sad because it affects the health, relationships and well-being of the user. 

What can you do if you have a family member or are concernd about your own use? Educate yourself. The previous link has good info about signs and symptoms of drug abuse.  Talk to an addiction specialist or counselor that can assess where you're at and make treatment recommendations.  And, talk to your doctor, but beware that some doctors do not understand addiction and therefore too easily prescribe pain meds for real or perceived pain.  There is help available. Take the first step. Talk to someone safe - a family member, friend or clergy or counselor about what's really going on.

 

(Sources:  Modesto Bee Opinions Nov 26th, 2012)