Painkillers: Are they slowly making us addictive?


Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs that interfere with the nervous system’s transmission of the nerve signals we perceive as pain. Most painkillers also stimulate portions of the brain associated with pleasure. Thus, in addition to blocking pain, they produce a “high.”

Pain killer meds like Tramadol are often known to have high functioning strength. These drugs can be addictive and can be abused if not taken under proper supervision. Often, a disclaimer stating that the drugs should be taken under proper supervision is given for this exact same purpose.

Let us see more in detail how an addiction can grab hold and what can be the consequences of it. 

Painkiller drug abuse

Pain killer meds cover a wide variety of drugs, but the ones that tend to be abused are opioids and opiate painkillers. These range from codeine cough syrup to drugs used in the management of extreme pain. When used correctly, these drugs provide welcome relief from the symptoms of cancers, bone breaks and other injuries, but painkiller abuse is a growing problem.
Their effectiveness is what makes them potentially addictive; they all act on the opioid receptors in the brain, creating a high as well as numbing pain. One of the first painkillers to be abused was morphine. It was first used extensively in the Civil War to help wounded soldiers recover from their injuries, which resulted in a large addiction crisis.

Heroin was developed in 1898 as a wonder drug more effective for treatment than morphine, but was a rather unfortunate alternative. Oxycodone and Hydrocodone were developed a little later, but not widely available until the 1950s. Their effectiveness is what makes them potentially addictive; they all act on the opioid receptors in the brain, creating a high as well as numbing pain.

Symptoms of painkiller abuse

“No one deceives like an addict”, words from Mycroft Holmes to his brother Sherlock in the popular TV series “Sherlock”. But even more so than that, there are certain signs and symptoms that the addicts can be found with. We as their loved ones need to be wary of any signs or symptoms that might give us a hint of their addiction, and take necessary steps.
Following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of opioid drug users; 
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Feeling high (euphoria)
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Increased pain with higher doses, etc

Other signs include:

  • Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Excessive mood swings or hostility
  • Increase or decrease in sleep
  • Poor decision-making
  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor

Causes of painkiller abuse

There can be many causes as to why a regular painkiller doses can become addictive. As already stated,
the effectiveness of these pills is what makes them addictive. There are certain other causes as well that might very well be the reason of these drugs being abused by so many people today;

  • To feel good or get high
  • To relax or relieve tension
  • To reduce appetite or increase alertness
  • To experiment with the mental effects of the substance
  • To maintain an addiction and prevent withdrawal
  • To be accepted by peers or to be social
  • To try to improve concentration and academic or work performance, etc.


Effects of painkiller use go far beyond the common physical effects of these drugs. Someone addicted to painkillers may experience:

  • Strained relationships and family issues.
  • Legal problems associated with buying and using the drug illegally or due to actions taken while using, such as driving while impaired.
  • Employment problems. Painkiller addiction can lead to missed work days, neglected responsibilities, and injuries on the job.
  • Infection from injection drug use. Infections can include Endocarditis (infection of the heart muscle), as well as Hepatitis-C, or HIV.
  • Depression.


  • Make sure you're getting the right medication.
  • Check in with your doctor. 
  • Follow directions carefully. 
  • Know what your medication does. 
  • Never use another person's prescription. 
  • Don't order prescriptions online unless they're from a trustworthy pharmacy.


Painkillers are known for their analgesic properties. As effective as they can be, they also have addictive properties. Proper guidance and supervision are the basic key factors to prevent drug abuse. These drugs work by how the pain is felt in the body. They block the sensation of pain between the nerves and the brain, along with the sense of euphoria. The users thus feel the need to get “high” again, and eventually this leads to addiction.
Various treatment centers have come up where professional help is provided to addicts, and helps them recover from the habit. However, it’s rightfully said, better safe than sorry. Proper preventive measures can help an individual and his/her family win a war against addiction even before it starts.


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