More About Painkiller Addiction
Painkillers are a type of prescription medication most commonly used for the treatment of mild, moderate or severe pain. The most commonly prescribed painkillers include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine. Fentanyl is a synthetic painkiller, and because of its potency it is generally reserved for severe, acute pain, and is only prescribed when other painkillers are rendered ineffective. Rates of painkiller abuse and dependence began to skyrocket in the mid-1990s, when pharmaceutical companies began pushing these medications, claiming that they were safe to use and resulted in no serious side effects or health-related complications. It was soon discovered, however, that these medications did result in severe side effects, including physical and psychological dependence.
The most frequently abused painkillers and their side effects include:
Codeine – This prescription painkiller is either injected or taken orally (swallowed). Codeine has a lower risk of respiratory depression, sedation and analgesia than morphine, but it can still be habit-forming. This prescription painkiller is naturally derived (along with morphine).
Morphine – This prescription painkiller can be administered orally or intravenously, though some people do smoke morphine and combine it with other chemical substances. Morphine is naturally derived and it has a high potential for abuse. Some common side effects associated with morphine include pain relief, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, profuse sweating, itchy skin, respiratory depression, lack of coordination, confusion, and when taken in excessive amounts, coma and death.
Methadone – This prescription opioid is typically taken orally, though it can also be administered intravenously. Methadone is used as a Medication Assisted Treatment option for people struggling with moderate or severe opioid abuse disorders, though it can be addictive and lead to overdose when abused. There are now several other MAT options that are more effective and safer to use (naltrexone and buprenorphine).
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids – Fentanyl is between 80 and 100 times more potent than morphine, and it is injected, smoked or snorted (when it is being abused). Not only are fentanyl and its analogs extremely addictive, but they are responsible for the majority of opioid-related overdose deaths in the country. Many drug dealers use fentanyl to increase the potency and street value of illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin.
Other Painkillers – Other painkillers inlcude oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, meperidine and propoxyphene. These medications are highly addictive and widely prescribed. Many people who begin abusing this type of prescription painkiller eventually transition to heroin because it is more accessible and affordable.