There has been an alarming rise in the number of clients presenting for treatment with painkiller addiction over the last 12 months. There are several theories as to why this problem is growing but at The Providence Projects, we are able to hear first-hand how people are becoming addicted to pain killers. So far, these appear to be the main routes into painkiller addiction.
- A person with no history of addiction is involved in an accident which results in serious injury or trauma and is prescribed the appropriate painkillers. They undergo rehabilitation for the injuries suffered and begin to restart their lives as they overcome the effects of the injuries sustained. The body starts to recover but during the rehabilitation, the individual has started to increase their dose of medication. Sometimes this has been advised by medical professionals, and other times the individual have themselves, felt the need to ‘up the dose’. Most commonly, the painkillers used in this type of scenario are opiate based. The individual who starts to physically repair then finds it very difficult to cut down or stop taking the medication, often exaggerating symptoms with the hope of more medication; looking to but medication on-line; or simply find themselves stuck on medication finding they have no drive or motivation for life.
- Commonly, painkiller addictions start with buying over the counter medication, most commonly paracetemol with codeine or ibruprofen with codeine. Without going into exactly how these medications work, it is clear that dependence can be formed very quickly and that these medications can be very dangerous not only due to the codeine content but because those who develop an addiction can take so many that this will often result in other health complications due to the amount of paracetemol or ibuprofen that they take. We have at times heard stories of clients taking up to 40 tablets a day.
- It is quite common for an ‘ex-heroin’ addict to develop a painkiller addiction. This can happen after being on a methadone programme or after a period of being clean but often happens when the individual desperately doesn’t want to return to using heroin but is experiencing strong opiate cravings. At the time, they will convince themselves that it is better to do this than to use heroin and the painkiller addiction starts. In these instances painkillers are bought over the counter, obtained through GP’s, bought online, or bought on the black market.
- There is also a huge group of people who are addicted to benzodiazepines, most commonly diazepam. Individuals are initially prescribed these for a variety of reasons including anxiety, insomnia, stress or often an underlying and unidentified alcohol problems. As the tolerance of the drug increases and the individual finds that they require more for the same effect, so the problem develops. GP’s, have often been guilty of prescribing these medications too easily and we are now seeing the consequences. Many of these people are finding it impossible to get off these drugs in the community due to the side effects associated with the withdrawal and are checking in for detox and rehab.
Of course, every story is unique and these are just a brief snapshot of some of the issues that are regularly being presented. If you or a loved one are currently experiencing difficulties with either prescribed or over the counter medication, there is help available. To find out more about the type of help The Providence Projects can help, please call today and speak to one of our expert therapists on 0800 9550945.