Addiction to Pain Medication – Finding Alternatives

Are you struggling with addiction to pain medication? Concise Recovery provides MAT and detox services to help overcome your addiction.

What Is Addiction to Pain Medication?

Pain is one of the top reasons individuals require medical help. It can be acute, such as after an accident or surgery, or chronic, lasting months or even years. While addiction to pain medication can happen to anyone, it’s most prevalent among people who suffer from chronic pain, as these conditions are recurring and can cause significant negative impacts to a person’s quality of life.

Opioid or pain pill addiction can occur when someone misuses their prescribed medication or obtains it illegally. If a person regularly uses opioids, even as prescribed, they can develop dependence as well as addiction. 1

In 2019, approximately 9.6 million people ages twelve and older misused prescription pain medication. 2
Addiction to Pain Medication


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How Pain Medication Works

Narcotics or strong painkillers bind to receptors in the human brain to block pain. Although highly addictive, prescription pain relief can be helpful when used carefully and as prescribed by a doctor. Narcotic pills for body pain are often prescribed for acute pain from injuries, surgeries, and chronic pain. 3

Signs and Symptoms of an Addiction to Pain Medication

When a person develops an addiction to pain medication, there are specific painkiller addiction symptoms one can look for. The following sections will explore the potential signs of painkiller addiction.

Extreme Drowsiness

Impaired judgment, drowsiness, and sleeping at odd hours can be signs of a pain pill addiction. Individuals using narcotics, even as prescribed, must not consume alcohol, operate heavy machinery, or drive. 3

Behavioral Changes

Poor self-hygiene, sadness, exhaustion, changes in eating patterns, rapid speech, and sudden mood changes can result from an addiction to pain medication. 4

Social Changes

Social changes may occur if you or someone you care about is struggling with a painkiller addiction. For example, changes in friend groups, isolation, and losing interest in activities can all be social changes due to an addiction to painkillers. 4

Dependency on Medication

Dependence can be one of the side effects of pain medications, such as opioids. Over time, your body and brain will tell you that the painkiller is necessary to survive. Your body will tolerate the dose you’ve been prescribed or are taking. As your pain pill addiction progresses, your body will become dependent and need more of the drug to achieve the same effect. 4

Quality of Life Has Decreased

When someone is suffering from a pain pill addiction, their quality of life will decrease in many ways. Financial hardship, legal consequences, and family strain commonly result from pain pill addiction. Additionally, an individual’s mental and physical health suffers when addicted to pain medication. 4

Most Addictive Painkillers

A class of drugs known as opioids is the most addictive type of prescription painkiller. This group of drugs includes Fentanyl, Oxycontin, Morphine, Percocet, and more. 5

Keep reading to learn more about each of these highly addictive painkillers.


Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used in medical settings as a potent pain reliever medicine. Compared to morphine, another opioid, fentanyl is approximately eighty to one-hundred times stronger. Fentanyl laced heroin is becoming increasingly popular as a street drug. Fentanyl and medications combined with fentanyl are associated with a significant increase in overdose deaths. 6


Oxycontin is an extended-release, long-acting pain medication in tablet form. This type of opioid is used in medical settings to treat moderate and severe pain. Oxycontin alters the way a person’s nervous system and brain process pain. Long-term pain meds like Oxycontin should only be taken under close supervision by a doctor. 7


Demerol, also known as meperidine, is another strong pain reliever medicine used for moderate to severe pain. If Demerol is abused, it can lead to painkiller addiction symptoms. 8


Hydrocodone and combination medications like Vicodin and Lortab are the second most common prescription opioid submitted into drug evidence by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These high-dose pain medications are the most frequently prescribed opiates in the United States. 9


Morphine belongs to a class of prescription painkillers known as opiate narcotic analgesics. As with each addictive painkiller, it’s critical only to take this medication as prescribed to avoid painkiller addiction symptoms. 10


Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. When used as prescribed or abused, this drug can result in addiction to painkillers. 11


Codeine, an opioid painkiller, relieves mild, moderate, and severe pain. Codeine is also used in medical settings to reduce cold symptoms, including coughing. Some people abuse codeine to achieve a painkiller high. 12

Replacement Medications and Detox

Replacement Medications and Detox

You may be wondering what the safest pain medication for long-term use is? There is no safe painkiller. All painkillers can result in pain pill addiction side effects. If you are struggling with detox and pain management, consult your doctor about treatment options. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be used to successfully help people get off pain pills or enter painkiller addiction treatment. The following sections will explore medications used to treat opioid dependency. 13


When getting off pain pills, methadone can help reduce cravings, minimize withdrawal symptoms, and block the effects of opioids. 14


Buprenorphine is used in detox and pain management programs to prevent and reduce cravings. 14


If you’re using or snorting painkillers, naltrexone can help block the effects of opioids. If a person in painkiller addiction treatment is taking naltrexone, they won’t experience euphoric or sedative effects if they use opiates. 14

Buprenorphine/Naloxone Combination Medications

Suboxone, Bunavail, Zubsolv, and Cassipa are combination drugs that include buprenorphine and naloxone. This type of medication reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings to use. It’s essential to pair MAT services with painkiller addiction treatment. 15

Get Help with Medication Addiction at Concise Recovery

If you are consuming, injecting, or snorting painkillers, it’s time to begin your journey towards healing and recovery. The knowledgeable team at Concise Recovery is prepared to help you find the healing you deserve. Contact Concise Recovery today to learn more about its services and addiction treatment programs!