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How to Help Someone Addicted to Painkillers

By Linda Whiteside

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Table of Contents

Woman struggling with addiction to painkillers gets help at NuView Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA

In 2018, more than 3.6% of the United States population reported abusing prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons. It’s a growing problem that has led to countless cases of addiction and overdose. However, you can help your loved one get the support they need to recover from a painkiller addiction. If you notice that someone you care about is taking painkillers too frequently and not following the doctor’s instructions, you should have a discussion with them about their usage.

If they are unable to stop using the painkillers or have other concerning behaviors, like mixing them with alcohol or other drugs, it could indicate an emerging addiction. If your loved one is addicted to painkillers, there are ways to support them on their recovery journey and get them the help they need. Read on for advice and tips on how you can help someone addicted to painkillers

Knowing the Signs of Painkiller Addiction

The signs that someone is addicted to painkillers are often mistaken for symptoms of chronic pain, making it difficult to identify an addiction. Chronic pain can be debilitating, but it should not be the driving force behind someone’s life. Individuals with chronic pain may require painkillers, but they shouldn’t rely on them to function normally. If you’re unsure if someone is abusing painkillers, you can look for a variety of signs. Common signs of painkiller addiction include:

  • An increase in the dosage or frequency of painkiller use – If an individual is taking painkillers as prescribed and their pain lessens, their dosage will decrease. If they begin taking more painkillers than prescribed and their pain does not diminish, it could be a sign of addiction.
  • Neglecting responsibilities – People with painkiller addictions tend to neglect responsibilities and hobbies that they used to enjoy. They may make excuses to avoid social activities and miss work.
  • Feeling restless or irritable – People with painkiller addictions often feel restless, irritable, and anxious. This may cause them to have outbursts of aggression or feel frustrated when others attempt to help.
  • Developing cravings for painkillers – People addicted to painkillers may experience intense cravings for the drug. If they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when they don’t take the drug, they may be dependent on the medication.

Talk to Your Loved One About Their Usage

If you notice that your loved one has any of the signs of painkiller addiction listed above, you should approach them and have a conversation about their usage. Be empathetic. It’s likely that they are uncomfortable with their growing dependence and just want to feel better. You might want to try a gentle approach and say something like, “I’ve noticed you’ve been taking a lot of painkillers lately. Is everything okay?” You could also bring up the fact that you’ve noticed them taking more pills than usual. If your loved one is taking painkillers as prescribed, they will likely be receptive to your questions and be able to explain their usage. However, someone with an addiction may become defensive or avoid the conversation. If your loved one is unable to provide a reasonable explanation for their drug use, it could be a sign that they are abusing painkillers.

Help Them Create a Recovery Plan

If someone you love is addicted to painkillers, it is important for them to seek treatment. People addicted to painkillers often have deep psychological issues that contribute to their drug use. They may also have co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression, that contribute to their painkiller dependency. Addiction treatment programs focus on helping individuals identify and overcome the root causes of their drug use. They will also provide your loved one with the tools they need to avoid relapse after treatment. If your loved one is open to seeking treatment, you can help them create a recovery plan. You should consult with your loved one to determine the best type of treatment for their needs.

Quality treatment programs address comorbid mental health disorders that may be contributing to addiction. They also address polysubstance abuse, which is the most dangerous type. Many people who abuse prescription painkillers also abuse other drugs. Some common substances that may be abused alongside prescription painkillers include:

  • Alcohol: Many people use alcohol as a way of self-medicating and dealing with underlying issues that cause addiction.
  • Stimulants: Stimulants, like cocaine and meth, can cause intense feelings of pleasure and euphoria. People addicted to stimulants may struggle with feelings of depression or anxiety.
  • Other opioids: People who abuse prescription painkillers may also turn to cheaper, more widely available “street” opioids like heroin.

Help Your Loved One Get Counseling and Rehabilitation

If your loved one is open to treatment, you can help them find a rehabilitation program that best aligns with their needs. You can also help them locate a therapist or counselor to assist them in overcoming their psychological issues. Addiction therapy is often an essential part of any rehabilitation program. It can help individuals understand the root causes of their drug use and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

How to Find the Right Treatment Program for Your Loved One

If your loved one is addicted to painkillers, you should work with them to find the best treatment program for their needs. There are several factors you should consider when selecting a treatment program.

  • Your loved one’s insurance coverage – Some insurance companies may require individuals to complete inpatient treatment, while others may cover outpatient treatment. Be sure to check your loved one’s insurance policy to determine what coverage they have.
  • Your loved one’s age – People of different ages respond to treatment programs in different ways. If you have a younger loved one, you may want to select a treatment program that offers more structure and activities for teens. If you have an adult loved one, you may want to select a program with fewer restrictions and a more open environment.
  • The level of care – Different treatment programs offer different levels of care. Outpatient care, for instance, can involve meeting every day or just once a week. Quality clinics, such as NuView Treatment Center, offer a wide variety of different levels of care. This allows clients to progress to more flexible programs as they develop a stronger foundation in recovery.

Get Opioid Addiction Treatment at NuView Treatment Center in Los Angeles

NuView Treatment Center provides effective and evidence-based treatment to individuals addicted to opioids, including prescription painkillers. Their program is designed to help clients uncover the underlying causes of their drug use, address negative thought patterns, and learn how to live a fulfilling, sober life. If you or someone you love is struggling with an opioid addiction, you should get help. You can find addiction treatment at NuView Treatment Center in Los Angeles. They offer a free assessment and can help you find the right treatment program for your needs.

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Author

Written By: Linda Whiteside
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Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson
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Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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