No one sets out to get addicted to painkiller medications. Addiction can be a devastating experience. Families, friends and co-workers can be alienated in the process. The statistics are revealing. One in five Americans has reported misusing a prescription drug at least once. This brings to mind that 20 percent of Americans may have abused prescription pain pills more than once. Fortunately, 80 percent of those same Americans were able to take their painkiller medications with no lasting or harmful effects. So how can pain pills become addictive?
A Natural Predisposition to Addiction
First, it should be understood that some people may have a natural predisposition to addiction. Their brains are wired differently, which can lead to intoxicating rushes when taking pain pills. This rush only serves to make their brains want more. When their predisposition to get high is reinforced, the behavior is repeated again and again, and the painkiller abuse becomes a vicious cycle.
Why Addiction Is on the Rise
While the experts do not know exactly how many Americans are addicted to painkillers, they know that addiction is on the rise. One of the main reasons could be that today’s generation has far more access to medicines than 15 or 20 years ago. Patient and advocacy groups may also have placed pressure on doctors to be less restrictive in prescribing pain pills. As it stands, there has been a tremendous increase in the surge of opioid prescriptions over the past decade. Millions of medicine cabinets in America are stashed with painkiller drugs.
Teen Drug Use on the Rise
Second only to marijuana use, painkiller drugs are the popular choice for many American teens. A survey of one in ten high school seniors revealed they had taken Vicodin within the past year. For some teenagers, it is an easy choice. Their parents take the drug as well. Registered as a generic drug, Vicodin is one of the most-prescribed drugs of this decade.
Why Do People Get Addicted?
Opioids, like any abused drug, work directly on areas of the brain that perceive pleasure. The vast majority of people respond to any stimulus that causes a feeling of well-being. These pleasure areas of the brain make people happy. People are likely to repeat whatever it is that makes them feel good.
For the addicted person, these sensations of well-being are as essential as the need to consume food and water. Medical experts believe that the brain’s cells undergo change in people as a result of their addiction. These are the people who become wired to continue the addiction.
Everyone’s system is built with a reward system in place. The mystery remains why millions of people can use prescription pain pills without becoming addicted. Trauma, as in sexual, mental, or physical abuse can, perhaps, make a person more prone to abuse a prescription painkiller. Adults who have abused alcohol or cocaine are those who are more prone to opioid addiction. A healthy lifestyle and positive outlook on life can be strong deterrents to addictions of any kind.