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Addictions to Prescription Painkillers Are Epidemic!

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Could you or someone you know be addicted to pain pills?

Quick relief from severe suffering is a welcome blessing, but prescription pain medications often turn into a curse when abused.

When you think about drug abuse and drug addictions, you may tend to think of three images: rich superstars (think Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley), foolish kids, and “bad” people who often end up in prison. But there are millions of “good” people, young and old, who are addicted to prescription drugs, often without anyone else knowing about it.

The commonly abused prescription drugs

When you hear about addictions to “drugs,” you may think first of street drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine (“meth”). But the number of people addicted to prescription drugs is greater than the number of addictions to all three of those street drugs combined.

The prescription drugs most commonly abused are the ones most commonly prescribed , which fall into three categories:

1. Opiods (narcotic analgesics, i.e., pain relievers) such as oxycodone (Oxycontin and Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and meperidine (Demerol).
2. Sedatives and tranquilizers such as Valium, Xanax and Nembutal.
3. Stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine.

The most commonly abused category? The painkillers . And because addictions to painkillers in the U.S. are epidemic, even among expectant mothers, there is also an epidemic of babies who are born addicted to painkillers . The suffering newborns then have to be gradually weaned off that drug. Very, very sad.

What is addiction? What is “drug abuse”?

Addiction can be either a physical (biological, chemical and pathological) or psychological dependence (an emotional longing for the effects of the drug—which can lead to physical addiction). People often experience both at the same time.

When an addictive substance is regularly ingested, that person's body will eventually build up a tolerance to it so larger amounts are needed over time to achieve the same result. This temptation to increase the dosage often leads to addiction.

Be forewarned that physical addictions are often permanent, which means the addicted person will have a life-long battle trying to resist the temptation to relapse into again using that drug.

Addictions to prescription drugs usually occur only when the prescription is “abused.” Abuse includes many easy-to-make mistakes: taking more pills or more frequently than prescribed, taking them after the pain has stopped, mixing them with alcohol or other drugs, taking a medication that was not prescribed for you, or using similar prescriptions from more than one doctor.

Once addicted, a person usually feels desperate because the withdrawal symptoms can be terrible. He might go “doctor shopping” (going to several trusting doctors to obtain similar prescriptions), search for sources on the Internet, go to unscrupulous “pill mills” or stoop to buying on the street illegally.

Why are most prescription painkillers so addictive?

To better understand the power of painkillers, let's compare opiates and opioids . Opiates are extractions from opium poppy plants. They include morphine and codeine. And morphine is frequently processed chemically to produce—guess what— heroin for the illegal drug trade.

The painkillers are opioids that are synthetic or semi-synthetic but chemically similar to opiates. The addictive properties of the painkillers are similar to heroin and morphine!

Opioids give some people a mild emotional uplift. This too can present a temptation to abuse the prescription, especially for someone who is depressed.

If these facts were more widely understood, there would be more healthy fear and respect for the potential risks involved in taking narcotic painkillers.

Youth addiction and adult addiction

Youth painkiller abuse often starts with young people “experimenting” by taking a “leftover” medication that was prescribed for someone else like a family member. Motivations include curiosity, thrill-seeking or an urge to relieve anxieties.

When adults (of any age) become addicted, it generally is because they have abused their own prescriptions. When there is drug abuse, addiction can occur within only a few weeks.

The good news is that when a patient takes an opioid painkiller for only as long as there is severe pain, strictly follows the prescription and is closely monitored by one doctor, it is rare that he will become addicted.

The main point of this message is this: Please don't let yourself become addicted to anything. Prevention is a thousand times easier than any cure! Stay alert for any early-warning signs of addiction!

If you or a loved one is addicted, seek help right away!

Valuable and thorough information on addictions is abundant, including many helpful Internet websites.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is addicted, begin by educating yourself. If you are addicted, please, please seek help. People very seldom overcome an addiction on their own.

If a loved one or friend is addicted, please don't put him on a guilt trip. Address it like any other medical problem. He's already feeling terribly ashamed and fearful. What he needs from you is respect, compassion and encouragement as well as your gentle guidance.

If an addicted person will also rely on God for comfort, guidance, motivation and strength, he has a huge advantage! Trying to conquer an addiction may seem like an impossible task. But Jesus Christ said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27 Luke 18:27And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
American King James Version×

The United Church of God has a special website— Breaking Free Journal —devoted to helping people break free from the chains of addictions and other self-destructive behaviors. It does not give medical advice, but you will find it quite helpful and encouraging. Go to . To read about addictions, click on Topics and then click on Addictions  .

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  • Kenneth Wilson

    For me the definition of addiction is hallmarked by a persons complete inability to stop behavior or substance based upon self will or self knowledge alone. The reason people medicate in behavior or substance is usually the same, the symptoms are the same, the cause is the same. Environment and circumstance may aid and abet a persons need to medicate but are never the cause, even though a person may claim so, they are mistaken and it is a common ready excuse.

    The second thing concerning addiction is that once off the medication, true addicts /codependents /alcoholics in time ALWAYS get worse without a solution to the problems and symptoms that caused the need to medicate in the first place. While a heavy user will be able to quit for good and for all based upon their own self will, the true addict or alcoholic cannot. This is important.

    Addiction is a spiritual malady brought to bear by selfishness and a true distance from God. I do not care what is on TV, what people (usually heavy users who just quit) may with conviction claim concerning cure or remission that does not involve God, they are 100% false. The only way out is for the TRULY afflicted to have a spiritual awakening and begin a relationship with God.

    Because I mentioned the symptoms I will list them. Humans suffer from typically the same emotional immaturity and selfish maladies: 1000 forms of fear, anger, self pity, acute loneliness, the big empty heart, brain running like a hamster on a wheel, blame, depression = stuffing anger inside usually with self, and the biggest ever increasing distance from God which is extremely uncomfortable to the addicted even though they will not know what the feeling is. All result in a person being uncomfortable in their own skin and needing to medicate just to be here.

    Painkillers are particularly damaging because they EXACTLY provide the very same internal feeling of well being that being close to AND HAVING A RELATIONSHIP with God provides. Selfishness and Godlessness is described as a reprobate mind by Paul. The reprobate mind that Paul describes in Romans as a promise of God is hallmarked by common human symptoms.

    Addicts / Alcoholics / Codependents appear to suffer from being distanced from God faster and more deeply than the general population. Being that their remission and answers lie in getting a relationship with God leads me to believe that this class of folks are destined to either gain the humility to enter into this relationship or perish. National stats are close to 14% of alcoholics and less than 10% of drug addicts will recover.

    Their are plenty of other addictions namely of the “repeating intimate relationship kind” which are just as powerful if not more than painkillers. They provide the same internal feeling of well being and are harder to diagnose, just as damaging. Alcohol is more of a flat out escape or check out. These comments are MY personal experience and beliefs and may not be yours. God Bless

  • jledbetter07

    So true that prevention is the key - addictions seem so hopeless without God’s intervention. Each generation suffers more acutely than the last it seems. The area where I grew up is now plagued with drug use including perscription drugs which are sold on the street. Its a small town, rural community that once stood on respect, honor and helping your neighbors. Its so very sad to see the people I knew when we were just regular kids, now transformed into adults with destroyed lives, some in prison, some just living each day to get through it which is just no life at all. I think about those people as they were when they were kids - expecting to grow up and have a good life - I’m sure most of their parents expected that as well. Instead now many of them are trapped in this never ending cycle of self destruction. Some have turned to dealing the drugs as a means to feeding their own habit and by doing so are dooming other young people to the same life of suffering. Its like playing russian roulette - are you the one that will become the lifelong addict from what you thought was just experimenting with a drug for fun? God can help and he does when we fully commit to changing no matter how hard it is and ask Him to give us the courage and strength and to show us mercy and forgiveness.

  • omkar12

    Really the most common and most harmful addictions is to prescription painkillers. There are number of people addicted to painkiller and after some times it will be more difficult to get out of it. pain killer is good for sometimes but the daily use of it is caused in addiction which is the more dangerous than that pain.

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