Opiate addiction has reached epidemic proportions and overdose is now the leading cause of death for those under the age of 50 in the United States, most of which are cause by opiates. Death from heroin overdose alone have surpassed deaths from gun homicides. Although useful for what they are prescribed for – the treatment of pain – opiate-based pain pills can cause euphoria, physical dependence, and lead to addiction.

There are those who choose to use pain killer recreationally, not understanding their powerful properties, and actively seek out drug-induced euphoria and become addicted. Yet, there are others with no history of recreational drug use, who have legitimate pain, sometimes as simple as dental pain, but once they begin to use pain pills, they discover the relaxation and euphoria that is created. With time, a profound pain killer addiction can occur.

Most people who use opiates for legitimate pain do not go on to develop a pain pill addiction. However, those who are predisposed to addiction, have mental health or emotional problems, or have a history of addiction can easily become dependent on opiates. When one becomes addicted, or develops a substance use disorder, the pain pills are used in ways other than prescribed; such as taking more pain pills or taking pain pills more frequently than prescribed, or introducing them into the body in ways other than prescribed.

Many of the commercially available pain pills can be taken in ways other than those recommended by the manufacturer. Pain pills can be crushed and either snorted or used I.V. Pain pills can also be chewed. When these methods are used, the drug is delivered much more rapidly to the brain, which causes a higher level of euphoria and can more rapidly lead to a full-blown opiate addiction.

Once addiction sets in, the pain pill addict will maximize his/her symptoms to get more pain pills from his/her physician, borrow from friends or family, go to multiple doctors in order to obtain a sufficient quantity to maintain the addiction, steal from pharmacies, or buy pain pills on the street. Despite stringent controls at the physician, pharmacy, and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) level, opiates are still being prescribed at an alarming level. Pain pills are also being illegally imported in order to meet the demand from those who are addicted.


The reason pain pill addiction is so dangerous is because other than relieving pain, decreasing anxiety, and creating euphoria, pain pills depress the respiratory and cardiac systems. If these systems are suppressed enough, the person may stop breathing altogether and the heart may stop beating. In this situation, to prevent death, the pain pill addict who have overdosed must be resuscitated, or given a drug called naloxone – Narcan.

Pain pill addiction, overdose, and death is so prevalent that many jurisdictions allow opiate addicts to keep Narcan in their home, in case a friend, family member, or the addicts themselves overdose. Narcan is a life-saving medication. One problem with this method is that there are entire opiate addicted communities who have also become dependent on the ability to receive rescue from the use of Narcan.  Narcan will only reverse the process of death by overdose, but it won’t actually treat the pain pill addiction. So, after being resuscitated many who suffer from a pain pill addiction continue using opiates unabated.

Signs and symptoms of Pain Pill Addiction

  1. Financial, legal, work and school problems
  2. Appearing drowsy
  3. Small pupils
  4. Frequent nodding off
  5. Seeing multiple doctors
  6. Frequently complaining of pain and the need for more pain pills
  7. Weight loss
  8. Poor hygiene
  9. Stealing or borrowing pain pills from other people
  10. Withdrawal symptoms such as diarrhea, muscle cramping, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and agitation when pain killers aren’t available
  11. Frequently running out of pain killers before a refill is due
  12. Using pain pills in ways other than prescribe

Pain Pill Addiction Treatment

There are drug and alcohol treatment centers that specialize in the treatment of pain pill addiction. You do not need to continue suffering and putting your life at risk. If you feel you, or a love one, is putting your life in danger and are addicted to pain killers, the National Addiction Institute can help you find the resources you need, before it’s too late. You can call us 24/7 at 844-889-8140 or complete an online contact form. Our addiction specialists are trained to help you locate the services that can best suit your needs.