Painkiller Addiction Treatment

Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong with your body. Doctors often prescribe opioids for pain during treatment. This gives the patient relief while treating the ailment causing the pain. There is some risk in using painkillers because they’re addictive. If patients have been misusing them or taking them for a long time, they can develop an addiction. When this happens, painkiller addiction treatment becomes necessary for recovery. Find out if you need addiction treatment for painkillers or opioids.

What are Opioid Painkillers?

Painkillers are also known as opioids. They generally work rapidly and effectively on pain. Part of their efficacy is due to the blissful and euphoric feelings they produce. Consequently, they’re popular for recreational use. As a result, our society has been battling an opioid addiction epidemic for several years. In fact, approximately two million Americans, including about 20 percent of medical users, had an addiction to these painkillers in 2017.

Doctors prescribe the following opioids as painkillers (this is not a complete list):

  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycontin
  • Morphine

Synthetic versions of opioids used for recreation (this is not a complete list):

  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine

Painkillers are safe if the patient uses them within the guidelines of their doctor’s instructions.

But sometimes people take more than what their prescription allows. For example, they may search their friends’ medicine cabinets or buy more on the street. Another example of risk is fentanyl-laced painkillers. Fentanyl is especially potent. To maximize profits, street dealers often lace prescription painkillers with it.

The amount of fentanyl in a laced painkiller can be hard to predict. The artist formerly known as Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose. He took painkillers that his doctor didn’t prescribe. He probably didn’t know they were laced with fentanyl. Within hours of taking the laced painkillers, he died. He was due to be on a plane to a painkiller addiction program that same morning.

Painkillers are Addictive

Opioids cause a rush of dopamine through the brain’s reward system. The healthy structure of the reward system can withstand this for a short period of time. However, if one takes opioids for too long, the brain structure changes to accommodate the “new” regular supply of dopamine to the brain system.

Dr. Karsten Kueppenbender was an addiction psychiatrist at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. “Any patient who is treated with opioids for 30 days or longer will develop opioid tolerance,” he said. “Users may also begin to want more of these drugs to achieve the same effect. It can happen to anybody.”

Withdrawal symptoms occur when one stops taking painkillers abruptly. The reward system doesn’t adapt quickly. Withdrawals persist during the brain’s reversion to its healthy reward system structure. Opioid withdrawals are mentally and physically agonizing. It’s one of the main reason’s patients relapse when trying to stop using them.

Addiction specialists can manage withdrawal symptoms during painkiller addiction treatment. Healthline discusses what to expect during this time. Patients start to feel withdrawals within 24 hours after the last use. Symptoms begin with muscle aches, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, and more. Later, the patient experiences rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramping, and more.

Symptoms peak after about three days and subside after about a week. During treatment, addiction doctors monitor withdrawal symptoms closely. They use medicines and other therapeutic approaches to manage the safety and comfort of the patient during the withdrawal period. Research has shown that Suboxone and methadone are effective for painkiller addiction. Therefore, the FDA approved them for use in addiction treatment.

Painkiller Addiction Treatment Program

Withdrawals are the first step to recovering from an addiction. After the body is stable and free of alcohol and drugs, treatment continues. Focus shifts from physical health to mental health. “The two main categories of drug use disorder treatment are behavioral treatments, (such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy) and medications,” says the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Recovery in Motion is a partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient facility. Medications started during withdrawal symptoms may continue throughout painkiller addiction treatment. Another important component of treatment is family therapy. Family members also struggle with addiction when their loved one is addicted. Family therapy is crucial to rebuilding a solid family unit.

After a patient completes a treatment program, they need to return to a safe living environment. In other words, the living accommodations should be conducive to a recovery lifestyle. Some of our patients don’t have a supportive environment to return to.

For that reason, we partnered with Paxton House Sober Living. Paxton House is a clean and sober residence. Every resident is in recovery and regularly attends 12-step meetings. Residents work together to establish healthy habits and routines they started in treatment.

Is Painkiller Addiction Treatment Right for You?

An addiction develops over time. It can be hard to recognize at first. If you recognize more than one of the following symptoms, you may need painkiller addiction treatment. You:

  • Tried to stop taking painkillers but weren’t successful
  • Spend a lot of time thinking about them (for example, looking forward to your next dose or trying to get more)
  • Experience powerful cravings
  • Have problems with your job, relationships, or the law because of them
  • Need to take them to feel normal
  • Need to increase your dose for the same effects once in a while

If you or someone you love has an addiction to painkillers, contact us today. We can help.


[1] “Addicted to Pain Pills: Understanding Narcotic Abuse.” WebMD, WebMD, 6 Aug. 2020,

[2] “Addicted to Pain Pills: Understanding Narcotic Abuse.” WebMD, WebMD, 6 Aug. 2020,

[3] Case-Lo, Christine. “Withdrawing from Opiates and Opioids.” Healthline, 12 July 2019,

[4] National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Can Prescription Drug Addiction Be Treated?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 June 2020,

[5] National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Can Prescription Drug Addiction Be Treated?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 June 2020,

[6] Publishing, Harvard Health. “Caution: These Are the Most Addictive Pain Meds.” Harvard Health,