Pain medications work by blocking the nerve receptors that transmit pain signals. Once the receptors are blocked, the sensation of pain either goes away or is dulled until the body flushes the drug out.
The most addictive of these pain relieves are called opioids. These are sometimes referred to as narcotics or narcotic pain relievers.
Here are the names of some frequently prescribed narcotic pain relievers:
Almost 2 million Americans are opioid dependent
Opioid prescription painkillers are chemically similar to heroin and can be as addictive.
Enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month.
According to the Center for Disease Control there is a current, growing epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.
Tolerance – Dependence – Addiction
Opioid dependence is a condition that involves the physical, psychological, and behavioral need for an opioid, and affects every aspect of a person’s life
When an opioid-dependent person stops taking opioids, severe physical withdrawal symptoms occur, and he or she often develops intense cravings for the drug. These cravings can be so powerful that people find it extremely difficult to stop taking opioids.
Opioid dependence is a condition that involves the physical, psychological, and behavioral need for an opioid, and affects every aspect of a person’s life.
With opioids risks such as addiction and the body becoming used to the drug (tolerance) can occur. The effect of tolerance means that frequent use of the drug may result in its diminished effect so, when safe to do so, the dosage may need to be increased to maintain effectiveness. This may be of particular concern regarding patients suffering with chronic pain.
Opioid analgesics , also known as narcotic analgesics, are pain relievers that act on the central nervous system. Like all narcotics, they may become habit-forming if used over long periods.
Signs of dependence include:
- A strong desire or sense of compulsion to take the drug;
- Difficulties in controlling drug-taking behaviour in terms of its onset, termination, or levels of use;
- A physiological withdrawal state when drug use is stopped or reduced, as evidenced by: the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance; or use of the same (or a closely related) substance with the intention of relieving or avoiding withdrawal symptoms;
- Evidence of tolerance, such that increased doses of the drug are required in order to achieve effects originally produced by lower doses;
- Progressive neglect of alternative pleasures or interests because of drug use, increased amount of time necessary to obtain or take the drug or to recover from its effects;
- Persisting with drug use despite clear evidence of overtly harmful consequences, such as harm to the liver, depressive mood states or impairment of cognitive functioning.
Early symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
Late symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Goose bumps
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Do not stop taking morphine or similar pain medication without talking to your doctor. Your doctor may decrease your dose gradually. If you suddenly stop taking narcotic pain relievers, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety; sweating; difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; chills; shaking of a part of your body that you cannot control; nausea; diarrhea; runny nose, sneezing or coughing; hair on your skin standing on end; or hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist).
Under no circumstances attempt to withdraw from these drugs without proper ongoing medical supervision.