According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Narcotic painkillers are among the most popular prescription drugs in the U.S and the use of them quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. Every year, doctors write about 300 million prescriptions for painkillers. That is enough for every adult American to be medicated around the clock for a month.
Many users quickly become dependent on the prescription pills because the opioids found in narcotic painkillers enhance the effects of neurotransmitters in the brain called endorphins to suppress pain, reduce anxiety and, at sufficient levels, produce euphoria. After any period of continual use, nerve receptors adapt to these drugs, leading to an increased tolerance. As tolerance and dosage increases, the brain will cease to produce its own natural endorphins.
At this point, the abrupt absence of opioid drugs will induce withdrawal syndrome as the body tries to compensate. Once this dependence has been established, the user is in a seriously high-risk situation. Professional help should be sought immediately.
“Nearly all of our clients have an opiate dependency,” states Brooke A. Denni, MA, LMFT, Clinical Director at Balboa Horizons, “Many say they initially began using prescription pills as a teen and were completely unaware of how dangerous these drugs are because they are prescribed by doctors and are often found in their parents’ medicine cabinets.”
Narcotic pain relievers now cause or contribute to nearly 3 out of 4 prescription drug overdoses and about 15,500 deaths each year, according to the CDC. For every death, 32 people are treated in emergency rooms for nonfatal overdoses.
Balboa Horizons’ clinical team is highly trained to deal with the challenges involved with opioid addiction and treatment. “We are familiar with all of the struggles that opiate addicts face: from the physical complications and discomfort of the post-acute withdrawal process, residual cravings, and the interpersonal and intrapersonal chaos their use has created in their lives,” says Denni. “We support our clients in developing coping skills to work through these issues and start a new substance free life.”