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Painkiller Addiction Effects and Dangers

In 2017, one in 11 patients in the United Kingdom were prescribed potentially addictive drugs as a painkiller following a serious injury or operation. The United States in such an opiate crisis, the president needed to address it in a press conference. So how does this happen, and what are painkiller addiction long term effects?

For years now, GPs in the UK have prescribed drugs such as tramadol or fentanyl, and these opiates have helped numerous individuals manage their pain and go on to make a full recovery. For some, it was the beginning of a journey down a road they thought they would never travel; the path to addiction.

Painkiller addiction is not entirely surprising given the strength of some of the drugs being prescribed. Fentanyl, for example, is 100 times stronger than morphine and is, in fact, more potent than heroin. Cited as a contributing factor to the deaths of numerous stars such as Michael Jackson and Prince, Fentanyl has even become a substitute for heroin at street level.

The slide into dependency can be gradual. For instance, individuals may start exceeding the recommended dosage at first, to help ease physical pain. After that, the temptation is to always take one more, until becoming ultimately hooked the drug. It can get to the point where someone will lie to their doctor to cheat the system to get more and more of the painkiller.

blurred out painkiller tablets out of the bottle

Those suffering with painkiller addiction can wake up vomiting with severe headaches after a night where they have been unable to access the drugs. By making increased demands to the GP, the supply could well be cut off, forcing them to seek other avenues of supply.

Seeking drugs from a dealer is usually the next phase in painkiller addiction, but the supply at street level is dangerously unregulated. There were 60 deaths from fentanyl in the UK in the first eight months of 2017 alone, most of those in Yorkshire.

Away from fentanyl and tramadol, there are a whole litany of drugs which can be used to treat pain that are equally addictive such as codeine, morphine and pregabalin. However, while the slide into addiction is a tragic by-product, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Port of Call offer services for help with prescription drug addiction in addition to opiate addiction help. We can help individuals get started on the road to recovery.

What are the effects of painkiller addiction?

Each painkiller will have its own unique side effects, yet some of the most common effects of painkiller addiction include:

  • Nausea
  • Severe headaches
  • Hallucinations
  • Constipation
  • Suicidal thoughts (in some cases)
  • Seizures

Some stats around painkiller addiction

  • Tramadol is the most commonly prescribed opioid in the UK
  • In 2014, Tramadol was responsible for 240 deaths in England
  • 90% of the highest prescribing areas in England are in the north
  • There were 28.3 million opioids prescribed by GPs in 2017 (around 10 million more than in 2007)
  • The BBC indicated that during 2016-17 there were 2.9 million people in England aged 16-59 who had taken a prescription painkiller that was not prescribed to them.

What painkillers can I be addicted to?

If you are becoming addicted to any of these painkillers then let us know:

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Here at Port of Call, we can help sufferers end the cycle of dependency. Call our team of specialists on 08000029010 to find out how we can help you or a loved one today.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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