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How Long Does It Take: Painkiller Addiction Signs

A middle-aged businessman looks into the bathroom mirror of his hotel room.
Even people who would never try hard drugs can be vulnerable to painkiller addition.


One person can take prescription painkillers for decades without any problems, while another can become addicted in a matter of weeks.

No one can tell who will become addicted and who won’t, but there are several factors that make addiction more likely. They include:

  • Past drug or alcohol abuse
  • A family history of addiction
  •  Mental illness such as anxiety or depression
  • Childhood trauma, such as the death of a parent or sexual abuse

It’s important to note that there is a difference between physical dependence and psychological addiction. Someone who takes painkillers as prescribed by his or her doctor will become physically dependent over time. That is to say that, if they suddenly stop taking them, they will suffer withdrawal symptoms.

A psychological addiction is different in one very important way: Painkillers become the central focus of life. People who are addicted to them crave them, think about them all the time and often find sneaky ways to get more of them.

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Addiction to painkillers is a very serious issue and could be a matter of life and death. It is important to ask the right questions to find the best rehab program for you or your loved one.

So how can you avoid that?

The first and most important step is to take them exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t stretch out your time between doses so that you can take more at once, don’t crush them and don’t “doctor shop” to find a physician who will prescribe more pills than are medically necessary.

You should also know—and be on the lookout for—the signs of addiction, including lying to your doctor about your symptoms, borrowing painkillers from other people, running out of your prescription early and using painkillers for reasons other than pain relief. In general, the more time you spend thinking about painkillers, the higher the chances that you are becoming psychologically addicted.

Lastly, look for alternatives to manage your pain.

Pain Pill Withdrawal

Fever, sweating, chills, body aches, nausea, insomnia and restlessness are all symptoms of painkiller withdrawal. These will be experienced to some degree whether you are physically dependent on painkillers or truly addicted.

The difference is that someone who is only physically dependent on painkillers can usually taper off of them successfully with their help of a doctor.

For those who are psychologically addicted, however, breaking free will be much more difficult. That’s because addiction is a disease and—just like diabetes or arthritis—it needs to be treated and managed.

Hope at The Raleigh House

Painkiller addiction can be treated, leaving you free to purse the joys and challenges of life again. At The Raleigh House, located in Denver, we embrace a whole-person approach to healing that addresses physical, mental and emotional health. Interesting in learning more? Fill out our form or call today to learn more about our painkiller treatment program.

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