Prescription Pain Medication and Addiction

Bottle of prescription medication
Prescription pain medication and addiction can be a serious problem.

Prescription pain medication and addiction can go hand in hand.

About Prescription Pain Medication and Addiction

Prescription pain medication can be used to reduce the pain associated with temporary ailments like sprains and broken bones. It may also be used to relieve the discomfort caused by arthritis or chronic back pain.

When pain medication is used for prolonged periods, a dependency can develop. Prescription drug addiction can also occur when pain medication is not used as directed. Because addiction is such a common problem, many physicians limit the amount of medication they prescribe, and may even under prescribe medication as a result.

Common Addictions

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reports that over 15 million people within the U.S. abuse prescription drugs. If this figure is correct, more people are addicted to prescription drugs than heroin, meth and cocaine combined.

While some prescription pain medications can be more addictive than others, all of them come with some risk of dependency. These medications include, but are not limited to:

  • Vicodin
  • OxyContin
  • Morphine
  • Demerol
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone

Signs of Addiction

As mentioned earlier, prescription pain medication and addiction can go hand in hand. There are many people who find that they are unable or unwilling to cut down and/or eliminate the use of prescription drugs. Fortunately, the signs of addiction to prescription pain medication are relatively easy to spot in others or even in yourself. The most common signs include:

  • Taking more medication than is prescribed
  • An inability to stop using the medication
  • Strong cravings for the drug
  • Using prescription pain medication to treat other things besides pain
  • A change in mood when the medication is not taken
  • Lying about the amount of medication that is being taken
  • Manipulating physicians to get more medication
  • Faking or exaggerating pain to get more prescription pain medication
  • Requesting more medication before any is needed
  • Illegally purchasing pain medication

Preventing Addiction

To reduce the likelihood of becoming addicted to pain medication, you should always use the medication as prescribed. If you feel that the medication is not relieving pain as it should, do not take more. Instead, speak with your physician about your concerns. The physician may decide to increase your dosage or try another medication. In any case, this is a decision that should be made by a qualified medical professional. To prevent an addiction to prescription pain medication, you can also keep a diary to carefully track your progress while on the drug. If you feel that you do not need the drug anymore or if you feel like you are becoming addicted to the drug, you can take your diary to your physician and discuss the next step in your treatment.

Treatment Resources

If you or someone you know has a problem with an addiction to prescription pain medication, there are many different resources that can be tapped for help. To start, you should speak with a physician to determine the best way to get off the medication.

Different people have different levels of addiction and must be treated accordingly. The type of pain medication can also play a role in determining treatment options. A physician should be able to recommend a plan of action, and may even be able to provide detox or addiction treatment center referrals.

Contacting an addiction support group like Narcotics Anonymous can also be helpful. Many people find that it is easier to overcome an addiction to prescription pain medication if there is a support group or a network of people that can assist them through the initial recovery period.

There are many other resources out there that can provide help or information. A few online resources that are worth checking into include:


An addiciton to pain medication can be overcome, and the first step is realizing there is a problem. Learn the signs and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Prescription Pain Medication and Addiction