It’s so easy to fall into the trap. People have health issues and they go to see their doctor. Realizing there are very few legitimate alternatives for some health issues, many doctors will prescribe certain medications. That makes good sense to most people. However, there’s a risk in using prescription medications for the treatment of chronic health issues. As a point of reference, the information below will focus on prescription pain medications because of the nation’s ongoing epidemic of painkiller abuse. The primary risk of prescription medication use is addiction. Most prescription pain medications are in fact opiates. As such, they are highly addictive.
When a patient is dealing with significant pain issues that won’t go away, they will likely need a steady stream of painkillers to help combat that pain. A steady stream of painkillers can quickly turn into drug dependence if not closely managed by the patient and doctor. There are two ways a patient can incur a dependence on prescription painkillers. First, it might simply happen naturally because of the way the patient’s body metabolizes the opiates. The second way is by going away from prescribed methods of taking the drugs. This is often referred to as self-medicating. When self-medicating, many patients will resort to taking too much of the substance at one time or taking it more often than prescribed.
Everyone needs to understand doctors write prescriptions a certain way for a reason. That reason is to protect the patient from problems like dependence. Once a dependence forms, addiction is not far away. Addiction can be characterized as a progressive dependence that causes significant behavioral changes and withdrawal symptoms with any attempt to stop using painkillers. Addictive behaviors might include:
- The onset of relationship issues with family, friends and co-workers
- Preoccupation with finding more painkillers
- “Doctor shopping” to create more resources for prescriptions
- Criminal behavior to get drugs or money for drugs
- Inability to handle normal responsibilities
- Withdraw from normal interests and activities
These types of behaviors are indicative of someone who is suddenly caught in the cycle of addiction. It’s worth noting that people who use prescription painkillers for recreational purposes (illegally) are more susceptible to behavioral changes because they don’t have the proper supervision when using the drugs. The physical and psychological measures of addiction are withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms occur when the body is deprived of the substance or substances it craves. When those cravings are not satisfied, the body and mind will react. These reactions can be quite dangerous, at times putting the individual’s long-tern health at risk. Here’s a look at some of the prevalent withdrawal symptoms one might experience after painkiller abuse:
- Hallucinations and nightmares
- Tremors and body convulsions
- Severe cramping in the muscles and stomach area
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Psychological reactions like depression, anxiety and anger
- Los of motor control over the body
- Breathing and heart rate problems
As everyone can see, any one of these withdrawal symptoms can be problematic. Having to deal with all of them puts the individual in harm’s way. To better understand the extent of that danger, a discussion about the typical detox timeline would seem in order.
Painkiller Detox – The Timeline
Before discussing the typical timeline for prescription pain pill detox, it’s important to note there are several factors that determine an individual’s detox timeline. Those factors include:
- Person’s body weight and height
- The length and depth of the individual’s addiction
- The amount of painkillers being used at a time and per day
- Types of medications being abused
With all of this in mind, we will isolate what we believe to be the typical timeline.
Phase I of Detox
Within the first 6-8 hours of abstinence, the body will begin to feel physiological changes. During this time, the individual might have sleeping issues and start feeling a little anxious about the absence of drugs. Over the next few hours, these feelings will intensify as the individual begins feeling sick.
Phase II of Detox
By the end of the first day, the addict will start realizing something’s wrong. Nausea and vomiting could start kicking in. Sleep patterns become completely disrupted as agitation and anxiety pick up momentum. Sometime during the second and third day, convulsions and tremors might occur. The muscles in the arms, leg and stomach will begin to feel heavy and start cramping up. At some point, the individual might experience breathing and heart rate problems that result in panic. In many cases, the individual will begin to feel they have lost complete control of their body.
Phase III of Detox
This is by far the most dangerous phase of detox. The addict is now in day five or six. While some of the physical symptoms will start dissipating, the individual will typically become unable to interact with their environment. In the worst cases, the addict might experience hallucinations and suicidal ideology. The good news is these types of symptoms will only last a few hours. As the detox process reaches one week, the individual will start feeling better. However, it’s a good idea for everyone to anticipate some residual reactions over the next couple of weeks.
A medically-Monitored Detox Program
The best way for someone to stay safe during detox is to enlist help from a professional detox facility. Under the watchful eye of medical professionals, the patient is monitored for signs of severe discomfort. If distress becomes evident, doctors have the option to prescribe certain medications to help keep the patient comfortable and safe. If you suspect you have an addiction to any prescription medication, it’s best to seek help right away. This will help you minimize the long-tern affects of your addiction. For more information about treatment, we recommend you contact one of our staff members as soon as you possibly can. Call one of our counselors today at 877-497-6180.