Pain and pain relief medication are two things that everyone is going to end up having to deal with. Everyone feels pain, which is among the many natural responses the body has that serve as a way to keep a person from doing something inexplicably stupid. However, pain is also something that most people don’t want to have to deal with, especially if the pain is chronic and gets in the way of performing daily tasks. Pain relief medication gives a reprieve from such problems, though these drugs can sometimes have a negative effect of their own on the body. Even if the pain relief medication being used isn’t derived from opium, medications of this sort can still become highly addictive.
Everyone is at risk when it comes to becoming addicted to pain relief medication, but not everyone is going to develop a problem. For the most part, the most narcotic pain killers (such as morphine, opium, and heroin) are easily the most addictive, but are also the ones that people are least likely to be exposed to. Morphine is usually used as a last resort by most doctors, particularly with non-narcotic alternatives already available. There are other instances where morphine might be used, though these are usually cancer patients and those who are undergoing post-surgery treatment. The doses of morphine for these people are usually in small amounts, which may or may not be enough to develop a physical or psychological addiction to the effects. In these cases, it often comes down to a matter of tolerance to the drug.
According to studies, the people who are at the highest level of risk are the ones that have become addicted to substances before. Former opium abusers are more likely to develop an addiction to morphine, while former morphine users have a lower tolerance for the effects of heroin. However, it does not always have to come down to derivatives of opium. Statistics show that even if the previous addiction was unrelated to pain relief medication, the risks were still increased by a noticeable amount. Family members who have become addicts in the past also apparently increase the risk of addiction in an individual, though it is unknown if this is caused by an inherited genetic trait or if “families of addicts” are more a product of nurture than nature.
Withdrawal is just as bad as the addiction itself, particularly if the drug was an opioid. The body undergoes the standard symptoms of undergoing withdrawal from a narcotic substance. For example, the early stages are easily characterized by an overwhelming inability to perform the simplest tasks or endure even small amounts of stress without some amount of the drug in their system. The body sometimes goes into a state of prolonged shock if deprived of the drug, with shivering, palpitations, excessive sweating, and occasional muscle spasms being part of the package. The psychological impact is also notable, especially since pain relief medication addiction can linger in the mind far longer than it does in the body.