Prescription Pain Relievers (Painkillers) are Highly Addictive
Adult pain medication abuse in the US has reached alarming levels over the last decade. Much of this is due to the fact that the vast majority of prescription painkillers are highly addictive. Many individuals will begin taking pain medication under a doctor’s supervision and become dependent upon it without even realizing it. As they descend further into deeper levels of pain medication abuse, they will often start taking higher dosages than recommended, continuing to take medication past the time period it is prescribed, or mixing pain medication with alcohol or other drugs to increase its effect.
Not Even the Elderly are Immune from Adult Pain Medication Abuse
In fact, older adults will commonly be prescribed these pain relievers for conditions such as severe arthritis, cancer pain, or post surgery pain relief. Unfortunately, these drugs are often very addictive, both physically and psychologically. Although these individuals may have never had any history of drug or even alcohol use in their lives – they can find themselves addicted to pain medication after only a few short weeks of usage.
Adult Pain Medication Abuse Signs are Sometimes Hard to Detect
The reason there has been such a large increase in adult pain medication abuse over the last decade is because Americans are living longer. The longer anyone lives, the likelihood they will eventually develop severe or chronic pain problems increase while they continue to age. Compounding the problem are doctors who may miss some signs of addiction in older patients because they mimic the symptoms of many other ailments common among the elderly. Symptoms such as confusion, balance problems, mood swings, etc. can often be misdiagnosed as signs of dementia or other conditions that strike the older population. Instead, these older adults may be suffering the effects of long-term pain medication abuse. Tragically they could suffer for years or even die from their addiction before anyone realizes that they have a problem.
Proactive Doctors Inadvertently Cause Some Patients to Illegally Obtain Painkillers
Awareness of this growing problem has led many physicians to be increasingly hesitant to prescribe these medications for their patients – and to be more alert to the emerging symptoms of adult pain medication abuse. This has decreased the effectiveness of the doctor shopping that many adults engaged in to fuel their pain medication abuse and led to a thriving black market in prescription painkillers. Theft of pharmaceutical shipments and even armed robberies of pharmacies have supplied this growing segment of the illegal drug trade. Individuals have also begun to cross the border into countries like Mexico, where these drugs are less regulated, in order to meet the demand for pain medication.