Pain Killers

Getting help with pain killer addiction from an addictions clinician. Free, confidential and impartial advice on detox,withdrawal,rehab,admission,cost, therapy,counselling and aftercare.

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Anyone who takes pain killer medication, whether they buy it over the counter or gets a prescription is at risk of dependency: Addiction does not discriminate. 97% of people who are prescribed opioids and opioid like agents will not have a problem, but for the 3% that do, life can become unbearable.

As a leading addictions psychiatrist at Harvard university, Dr Karsten Kueppenbender states:

"Any patient who is treated with opioids for 30 days or longer will develop opioid tolerance. This causes them to suffer withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped abruptly. Users may also begin to want more of these drugs to achieve the same effect. It can happen to anybody."

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Pain Killers

Short-term versus long-term effects

If you take opioids, repeatedly, your body will slow the amount of endorphins it produces. The same some will stop the trigger of such a strong wave of euphoria: This is called tolerance. This is why one of the reasons why opioid addiction is so common is that those who develop tolerance may be driven to increase their intake so they can feel good.

GP's and other prescribing health care professionals are now acutely aware of the problems of pain killer addiction and are actively trying to work, collaboratively, with patients to reduce their use. This is why some patients will turn to illegal supplies of pain killers or begin to use street drugs such as heroin which bring a whole host of other problems, mainly that they are often mixed with other drugs.

Stopping suddenly is never a good option and tapering down, either with the medication you were originally prescribed, or a different opioid that has a longer lasting effect on the body (an extended half life) is the optimal treatment plan

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Pain Killers

Opioid addiction risk factors

If opioids are taken not in accordance with the prescription then problems can occur. Pills are not designed to be crushed or injected. If the pill/tablet is a long or extended formulation the practice can be even more dangerous. Life threatening, even. While taking opioids for thirty days or less is a general rule of thumb, it doesn't mean you can not become addicted if you take opioids for less than a month. There are several factors at play: Genetic, psychological, and the environment the person lives and works in.

There are some known risk factors:



History of criminal activity and/or legal problems (especially drink and drug driving)

Regular contact with other users

Heavy tobacco use/vaping

History of mental health challenges (especially depression and anxiety)

Stressful circumstances

Previous use

Gender: Women are more likely to experience chronic pain and thus be more susceptible to addiction to pain killers.

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Pain Killers

How to prevent opioid addiction:

Opioids are safe, yes, let me repeat that: Opioids are safe. If they are taken for three to four days to manage acute pain , for example after surgery or for a broken bone, at the lowest dose tolerable then all should be well. Opioids are not the best option for chronic/long term pain. There are many alternatives.

Opioids are safest when used for three or fewer days to manage acute pain, such as pain that follows surgery or a bone fracture. If you need opioids for acute pain, work with your doctor to take the lowest dose possible, for the shortest time needed, exactly as prescribed. They simply will not work for long term pain.

No one is immune to pain killer addiction. How can a loved one spot the signs? Here are the things to look out for:

A loved one lying about where they have been

Not taking interests in social activities/being absent from work

Stealing medication ​

Visiting different doctors and emergency departments to try and get prescriptions

Social isolation

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Pain Killers

Physical symptoms:

Low blood pressure


Disturbed sleep patterns

Excessive sweating

Severe itching

Pupil dilation

Cognitive symptoms:

Sudden confusion


Poor decision-making skills

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Pain Killers

Effects of prescription painkiller withdrawal and overdose:

Prescription painkiller withdrawal and overdose can have severe consequences, often accompanied by a range of distressing symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms such as loose stools/diarrhea, high temperature, heavy sweating, and poor appetite can make the process challenging and uncomfortable. On the other hand, overdose symptoms, including flu-like symptoms, feeling sick, a strong urge to take more painkillers, and an excessively runny nose, can signal a critical situation requiring immediate attention. Moreover, severe withdrawal signs like shaking, vomiting, and watery eyes can further exacerbate the distress. It's crucial to recognize that painkiller addiction is not only debilitating but also potentially fatal, especially when an individual consumes more tablets than their body can handle, leading to overdose and possible death.

Gabapentin and Pregabalin

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What can be done about pain killer addiction in a treatment centre?

Unlike some drugs, such as Cannabis and Cocaine, it is not safe to suddenly stop using Opioids and Opioid like agents. The main aspects of a treatment plan are:

* Tapering with an appropriate opioid: This can be the drug itself (if prescribed) or a substitute such as Methadone or Buprenorphine

* 12 step or SMART recovery therapy

* Build up a mental "took kit" to prevent relapse

* Work on relapse prevention

* Explore recovery capital

* Link in with local support groups to make a successful transition

No one should try and deal with this themselves. Residential treatment is available, now, to help you make the transition into recovery.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Unsurprisingly, we get asked a lot of questions, to make things easier for you, we have included some of the most common one below.

  • What pain killers can become addictive?

    In short any opioid based medication (and opioid like agents) can become addictive, some examples are:


    • Codeine phosphate
    • Buprenorphine
    • (Butrans,temgesic,Buplast,Bupeaze,Bupramyl,Butec,Hapoctasin,Panitaz,Prenotrix,Reletrans,Relevtec,Sevodyne,Transtec)
      Co-Codamol (Kapake,Solpadol,Codipar,Migraleve Yellow,Panadol ultra,Solpadeine Max,Solpadol,Zapan,Paracodal,Tylex, Galcodine, Diamorphine)
    • Dihydrocodeine (Eroset,Remedeine)
    • Dipipanone
    • Fentanyl (Abstral,Effentora,Instanyl,Pecfent,Recivit)
    • Hydromorphone (Palladone)
    • Meptazinol (Meptid)
    • Morphine (MST, MXL)
    • Oxycodone (Lynlor,Targinact)
    • Papaveretum
    • Pentazocine
    • Pethidine
    • Sufentanil
    • Tapentadol
    • Tramadol (Brimisol PR,Involdol SR,Mabron,Maneo,Marol,Tilodol SR,Tradorec XL,Tramuleif SR,Zamadol 24HR, Zeridame SR, Zydol SR,Zydol XL, Zytram SR,Maxitram SR)
  • What are the signs of addiction to pain killers?

    While the length of time you take pain killers for and your personal history play a role, it is impossible to predict who will become dependent and who will not. Legally obtained or sought on the parallel market, it matters not. Pain killer dependency is now responsible for the majority of overdose related fatalities. Those with a history of mental health challenges are more pre-disposed.

    Addiction is not something people set out to do. Often people take pain killers due to debilitating pain and are frightened to stop taking them out of the fear that the pain will return. Pain killers

  • Why are opioids highly addictive?

    Opioids and opioid like agents activate very powerful reward centres in the brain. When taken, they activate the release of endorphins: The brains feel-good neurotransmitters. When these are released your perception of pain is altered and there are enhanced feelings of pleasure, which leads to a temporary, but very powerful, sense of

    Opioids are highly addictive, in large part because they activate powerful reward centres in your brain. They can trigger the release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Endorphins muffle your perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary but powerful sense of well-being. When an opioid dose wears off, you may find yourself wanting those good feelings back, as soon as possible. This is the first milestone on the path toward potential addiction.

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