When Pain Pill Use Turns Into Pain Pill Abuse – Signs to Watch For

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Pain pills provide fast and effective relief for people who’ve undergone surgery, suffered an injury or live with chronic pain-related conditions. As the go-to treatment for most any type of pain symptom, pain pill use is a common everyday practice for many Americans.

Unfortunately, the ongoing use of pain pills comes with a high risk for abuse regardless of whether a person follows prescription guidelines. When pain pill use turns into pain pill abuse, users contend with a wide range of adverse effects that ultimately place them at risk of full-blown addiction.

Being able to recognize the signs of pain pill abuse early on can go a long way towards lessening your risk for addiction and getting needed treatment help.

Call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to ask about available treatment program options.

Pain Pill Abuse Effects

Pain Pill Abuse

Depression and irritability are common pain pill withdrawal symptoms.

Prescription pain pills belong to the opiate class of drugs. Opiates as a group act as depressants, slowing down brain and central nervous system functions, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. This effect accounts for their pain-relieving properties.

Opiates also have a cumulative effect, causing marked chemical imbalances in the brain over time. These imbalances create prime conditions for pain pill abuse practices to develop.

As chemical imbalances become more pronounced, pain pill use gradually turns into pain pill abuse.

Signs to Watch For

Withdrawal Effects

After so many weeks of taking pain pills, growing chemical imbalances soon start to interfere with normal brain and central nervous system functioning. Withdrawal effects develop out of these conditions.

Symptoms commonly experienced include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Restlessness

As users are inclined to take more of the drug in order to gain relief from uncomfortable symptoms, withdrawal effects can mark a starting point for pain pill abuse practices to begin.

Is Prescription Pain Pill Abuse Less Harmful than Heroin Abuse?

Taking Larger Doses

The opiate ingredient in pain pills shares a similar chemical makeup to the brain’s own endorphin chemicals. Subsequently, the brain readily adapts to opiate effects, and so can tolerate increasingly larger drug doses over time, according to the University of Utah.

This means, a person has to increase his or her dosage amount in order to experience the pain-relieving effects of the drug. Under these conditions, pain pill abuse occurs whenever a person takes a larger dose than prescribed or increases his or her dosage frequency.


With prolonged pain pill use, brain chemical imbalances reach a point where the area of the brain that regulate emotions, thinking and motivation undergoes significant changes. Also known as the brain reward center, changes in how this region functions essentially drives the compulsive drug-using behaviors that characterize addiction.

Drug cravings develop out of these ongoing changes. In effect, cravings result from the mind’s growing dependence on opiate effects to cope with daily life pressures.

Treatment Considerations

While chronic pain can make life unbearable, a developing pain pill abuse problem can quickly make a bad situation worse. Seeking out needed drug treatment sooner rather than later can help prevent a full-blown addiction from taking root.

If you’re considering drug treatment and need help finding a program that can address your treatment needs, call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to speak with one of our addiction specialists.

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