Addiction to Pain Pills
Although we try to stay true to our devotion to God, sometimes temptation becomes too strong. As the Lord's prayer says, He does not lead us into temptation, but sometimes temptation finds us and we can't resist. Not because we're weak in our devotion or destined to be sinners, but because there are evil forces in this world that prey on some of God's children more than others.
Prescription pain relievers make up some of the most addictive substances on the market, so much so that the American Society of Addiction (ASAM) medicine estimated that 2 million people were addicted to pain pills in 2015. A category made up primarily of prescription opioids, pain pills are one of the most prominent addictions in America today.
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2
If you or a loved one are addicted to pain pills, you can find solace, healing and a supportive community at the Road to Freedom. For more information or to speak to one of our professional addiction counselors, call us today at 844-402-3605.
What Are Pain Pills?
When people refer to "pain pills", they're almost always referring to prescription opioids. These are a specific class of drug that binds to the brain's opioid receptors and hack the body's pleasure centers by triggering the release of more dopamine than the brain is used to, producing a sensation of euphoria in its users. This class includes:
- Hydrocodone (Percocet, Norco)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Vicodin)
- Fentanyl (Duragesic)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
Sometimes, other drugs are prescribed for chronic and acute pain. Some of these include:
- Gabapentin (for nerve pain)
- Some benzodiazepines, which are nervous system depressants
Benzos and some other drugs are not used or prescribed primarily for pain, but can dull pain as a side effect and are highly addictive, so they must be mentioned here.
The Consequences of Pain Pill Addiction
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. - 2 Corinthians 1:5
The Bible teaches us that suffering is a natural part of the human condition, and addiction is just a test of our willingness to go on. People who are addicted to pain pills experience more suffering than normal due to the harsh physical and mental toll of addiction to these drugs.
How Do Pain Pill Addictions Start?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 54 million Americans have used a prescription drug for non-medical reasons at least once. A 2014 SAMHSA survey found that an estimated 4.3 million Americans were currently abusing prescription painkillers.
This is due in part to an increase in physicians' willingness to prescribe opioid drugs for pain. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prescription pain pills sold to pharmacies and doctors offices nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. Patients are prescribed multiple months of an addictive pain pill, take it for long enough to become dependent on it and their body and mind doesn't function normally without the drug in its system.
The problem is that without a prescription, pain pills can be very expensive through sites like Craigslist and through traditional means of acquiring drugs (street dealers). This may lead addicts to buy cheaper alternatives instead, like heroin or fentanyl.
Pain Pill Overdoses
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. -Romans 5:3.
Christian teachings tell us that our suffering is just a part of life and that we can come out of trials as better people, but the sad reality is that many addicts never have that opportunity. According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2015, almost 200,000 Americans died from overdoses of a prescription painkiller.
Often when we think of overdoses, we think of what are often considered "harder" drugs and assume that only heroin addicts or cocaine addicts die from overdoses. Sadly, this is not true. 1,000 people each day enter a hospital's emergency department to be treated for misuse of a prescription opioid.
Detox and Recovery From Pain Pill Addiction
Recovering from an addiction to pain pills can be a road filled with struggles, and often it seems like recovering from anything major like this can be God's way of testing our strength and resolve. Just remember that no matter what the odds you may be facing, He forgives all sins:
The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. - Psalms 34:19
Pain pill addicts have a difficult time during detox and rehab because of the harsh withdrawal associated with opiates. Whether you try to quit pain pills on your own, or under the supervision of medical professionals, detoxing from pain medications carry the following negative side effects:
- Anxiety, depression and negative thoughts
- Intense craving for pain pills
- Abdominal pain and body aches
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Uncontrollable yawning
- Dilated pupils
- Sweating and feverish state
According to addicts attempting to quit using pain pills, one of the biggest challenges in the process of quitting is the loss of pleasure that accompanies detox. Because an addict's brain has relied on therapeutic medications to regulate dopamine levels, it can have a hard time keeping these levels up after the drug leaves the body.
For many addicts, this comes with an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and low self worth. As any Christian knows, it can be difficult to keep up hope and faith in the face of a struggle against the odds. Even Job, when God sent him a series of tests of his faith, nearly faltered. The important part about withdrawal from pain pills is that you use the promise of God's light and your faith in Him as motivation to persevere.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Pharmacotherapy is a major trend in evidence-based treatment practices, which involves using the assistance of a drug to help wean addicts off of their drug of choice. Since pain pills tend to be opiates, there are several strategies that can help opiates detox safely and successfully with the help of medications. From SAMHSA guidance on MAT strategies:
- Buprenorphine: A mild opioid that mimics the effects of pain pills on a smaller scale. It binds to opioid receptors to provide a dull version of the high that a person would receive from pain pills, but after a certain point, taking more won't produce any stronger results, so buprenorphine can act as a safer replacement to more dangerous opioids during detox.
- Methadone: Methadone is a weaker opioid that takes effect over a longer period of time, calming a pain pill addict's cravings during treatment. Methadone is also addictive, although not at the same level as other opioids.
- Naltrexone: Known as an "opioid antagonist", addicts that take naltrexone have withdrawal symptoms if there are any opioids left in their system. The drug also deactivates opioid receptors so that the brain doesn't receive any high from using pain pills.
- Suboxone: This is one of a newer family of opioid treatment drugs which combines the opioid agonist buprenorphine with an antagonist called naloxone. The buprenorphine blocks cravings for the drug, while naloxone stays dormant unless a stronger opioid enters the system, in which case it creates an unpleasant reaction in the addict, preventing relapses during treatment.
How to Get Clean and Stay Clean from Pain Pills
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God -Ephesians 2:8-9
No matter how an addiction to pain pills takes hold of a person, or where they have been in their journey towards freedom from addiction, every addict shares a common thread: hard work.
It isn't easy to recover from any addiction, especially one involving opioids and prescription pain pills. Your body may constantly be telling you that you need these drugs and that you can't live without them. When you try to quit, withdrawal is a manifestation of the devil, trying to drag you back into addiction.
At Road to Freedom, we want to remind you that all evil things pass eventually, and through God, your sins shall be forgiven. At our state-of-the-art addiction treatment facility, we integrate effective, evidence-based treatment with Christian teachings that give you the strength to carry on, even when it seems like faith alone is not enough; never lose your trust in God.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to pain pills, speak to one of Road to Freedom's professional addiction counselors. Many of the people that you'll talk to have been where you are now, and can guide you to find the best treatment for you. For more information, call us at 844-402-3605.