Adverse Effects of Getting Hooked on Painkillers

Like what the ad said, “Once you pop, you can’t stop.” But if you do stop, there lie the multitudes of problems you’ll experience all at the same time.


The Growing Problem


The number of painkiller addicts is on the rise in America and what’s more disturbing is it is one of the leading contributing factors to the increase in the deaths caused by drug overdose.

Currently, a lot of states within the country are calling for more stringent, more restrictive rules on prescription drugs that are mainly abused by a particular demographic. According to an infographic presented by the National Institute of Drug Abuse in 2014, the population with the most opioid addiction numbers belonged to the young adults who are between the ages of 18 to 25. This result accounted for at least five deaths per day and is unfortunately increasing.


Furthermore, the abuse of painkillers not only affects the primary individuals but also impacts the people around them. Therefore, it is a must for those who know someone who has an opioid problem to understand the adverse effects of painkiller addiction and offer a hand to get immediate medical help.


General Adverse Effects


Changes in how a person looks and acts are indicative of chemical abuse, some of which can be seen through constricted or dilated pupils that are either glazed or bloodshot and weight loss or weight gain. Some other general side effects are the following:


  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Lethargy or drowsiness
  • Irregular breathing patterns
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Mood swings with moments of apathy


Aside from the physical manifestations, a person’s lifestyle can also be severely affected. You can pinpoint who’s going through substance abuse through the following:


  • Acts of theft or venturing into illegal activities just to sustain the addiction.
  • Work performance or school standing, and social interactions suffer.
  • Poor grooming and personal hygiene.
  • Aggressive and is always irritable.
  • Keeping secrets and avoiding personal conversations.
  • Change of company, mostly being with those who are also abusing drugs.
  • Modified sleeping patterns.


One of the primary indicators that someone is abusing prescription medications is when that person frantically denies the behavior or starts to create stories and make excuses. Justifications for the continuous use of painkillers are usually focused on why they are unable to stop taking them to the point of frustration and agitation.


Long-Term Adverse Effects


If the addiction to painkillers is not ceased in its early stages, there are dire consequences in the long run which are detrimental to the person’s well-being. The longstanding effects of opioid abuse can either be psychological, physical, and social. To emphasize, here are some long-term repercussions of painkiller abuse for both mental and physical aspects.




Mental effects are as follows:


  • Depression. Mood disorders, primarily depression, have an apparent connection to addiction. The association between depressive disorders and substance abuse can be attributed to the presence of a pre-existing mental disease that may have led to the addiction.
  • Paranoia. Marijuana and cocaine can cause paranoia; however, to a specific effect, paranoia can also be experienced by opioid abusers.
  • Anxiety. Aside from opioids, there are a lot of substances that cause anxiety either as a dependency side effect or as a withdrawal consequence. Those who suffer from painkiller abuse are more likely to struggle with anxiety or mood disorders.


Physical effects are as follows:


  • Kidney Disease. The kidneys can be severely damaged due to habitual drug use, especially for those who have been on painkillers for several years. In general, abusing specific substances can lead to muscle breakdown, hyperthermia, and dehydration which are all contributory factors to kidney damage.
  • Liver Disease. Liver failure is a common side effect of long-term opioid abuse, as well as inhalants and steroids. The liver’s primary function is to filter toxic elements from the blood. Persistent painkiller use overworks the organ, causing inflammation, necrosis, scarring, and at some point, cancer.
  • Lung Disease. Prescription painkillers can severely affect a person’s breathing pattern by causing significant damage to the integrity of the lungs, thereby resulting in multiple complications.
  • Heart Disease. Finally, the central organ that’s deeply affected by opioid abuse is the heart. Fentanyl and Oxycontin are just some examples of powerful painkillers that can increase the risk of rhythm and rate irregularities, leading to heart diseases and complications.


A Challenging Phase


Painkiller addiction is just not about the drug itself but the harmful habits and behaviors that are coupled along with it. The moment a person indulges in substance abuse, they will find themselves obsessed with doing bad things that they didn’t know they can do which can immensely affect their nature and relationships.


If you or someone you know is possibly struggling with opioid abuse, consider getting professional counseling and intervention. Rehabilitation from painkiller addiction should start as early as possible so as not to experience further damage to oneself and other people. While the process of recovery can be a challenging phase, it is indeed rewarding.