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Recognizing Addiction to Pain Medicines

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Most people who take pain medicines as prescribed by their doctor don't become addicted to them. But some do. People more likely to become addicted to narcotics include those who have been addicted to other substances in the past or who have a family history of addiction.

Signs of addiction include:

  • Loss of control over pain medication use.
  • More frequent use of the pain medication per day.
  • Taking pain medication for other reasons besides pain, such as when depressed.
  • Taking pain medication that was prescribed for another person.
  • Change in personality.
  • Social withdrawal from family, friends, and other social interactions.
  • Change in daily habits and not taking care of oneself (poor hygiene, sleep, diet)
  • Neglecting responsibilities such as work and school.

What to Do If You Suspect Addiction?

If you think you or someone you love may have a problem with addiction, talk to your doctor about your concerns.

Addiction Can Be Overcome

Getting past painkiller abuse requires a doctor's supervision and may involve a detox program. Once the addicted person has completed addiction detox and therapy, the person's family, friends and doctors all must work together to recognize signs of relapse. Participating in a relapse support group and a 12-step drug-dependency program can help people stay on track.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 28, 2015
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