How Do People Get Addicted to Painkillers?

The United States is currently going through a prescription drug abuse epidemic of sorts. While over-prescription of opioid painkillers is a possibility, according to a study by the US department of health and human services, it is not the main reason as to why people get addicted to painkillers.

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Commonly Abused Painkillers

Opioid painkillers indeed remain some of the most widely abused painkillers in the States. They include:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

They work by targeting the opioid receptors in the brain that effectively reduce pain perception. Doctors usually prescribe opioid medicines to treat severe pain following surgery, cancer treatment, or terminal illnesses. 

The medicine releases a warm fuzzy feeling throughout the body that takes the edge off the pain. However, it is also known to cause feelings of euphoria in some patients. So even those people who don’t have to deal with pain, which can become addictive. This “high” is what causes people to become addicted to painkillers.

Oxycodone addiction is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the states. Often, people abusing these painkillers start by taking just the prescribed amount of the medicine but soon build resistance, then dependence, which leads to becoming addicted. The side effects of oxycodone can be severe or mild depending upon the level of abuse; however, they aren’t as dangerous as that of Percocet.

People are more susceptible to Percocet addiction. The drug combines oxycodone and acetaminophen, which activate the brain’s reward mechanism. People tend to get addicted to these painkillers because of the way it makes them feel, which can lead to dangerously abusive consumption patterns.

What Is Fuelling Prescription Drug Addiction?

Opioids are traditionally used for short term treatments only to avoid the chances of the patient building resistance or dependence. According to Dr. Karsten Kueppenbender, an addiction psychiatrist at McLean Hospital, which is Harvard affiliated, patients exposed to such heavy painkillers for 30 days or more, are at a higher risk of developing a prescription drug addiction.


Incorrect dosage is also a leading factor that’s fuelling addiction amongst patients. If a person is prescribed heavy dosage of opioid painkillers for two weeks or more, their body develops dependence. Such patients may experience withdrawal if they abruptly halt the consumption of the medicine. “How long does pain pill withdrawal last” is a question that’s often asked by the family members and friends of people who are going through this form of withdrawal, and it depends upon the dosage intensity and level of dependence that the user has built up.

Even though dependence and addiction are not the same things, dependence can very well become a reason for painkiller abuse. Once the body builds tolerance, it craves a higher dosage to obtain the same euphoric feeling. Over time, the central nervous system gets so accustomed to the presence of the drug. This addiction efficiency declines in the absence of the drug.

Effectiveness and Ease of Access

Painkillers perform particularly well when it comes to pain relief and that too, with minimal effort. They can induce feelings of relaxation and are often more accessible than non-medication pain management services.

It is because of this effectiveness and accessibility that opioid painkiller prescriptions quadrupled from 1999 to 2013. What makes matters worse is how easily teens can get access to these medicines. They steal prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets and throw prescription parties.

Who Is Susceptible to Addiction

Addiction, however, extends beyond ease of access. Many have a medical history that fuels their painkiller addiction. Among the top are those who have a history of addictions like alcohol and nicotine. They can easily mistake prescription drugs as substitutes for nicotine and alcohol, shifting their dependence mechanism. 

People with untreated mental illnesses, mood disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders are more susceptible to prescription drug addiction. However, with effective painkiller addiction treatment, they can overcome these obstacles and live a clean, pain pill addiction-free life.

Getting Rid of Pain Pill Addiction at CBH

Opioid addiction only comes about after repeated use or misuse of the drug. In such situations, the brain forgets how to function without it while also simultaneously getting used to the medicine to the point where a regular dosage becomes ineffective. Painkiller addiction is a constant downward spiral that could very well lead to death by overdose.

Even if you halt the addiction before it gets out of hand, there are substantial side effects of oxycodone and Percocet addiction. Each medicine has different side effects and the question “how long does pain pill withdrawal last” has no definite answer. 

The Best Painkiller Addiction Treatment

We at California Behavioral Health provide personalized drug addiction treatment for all those wanting to begin a new life – one free from addiction. We don’t believe in the one-size-fits-all 12-step model and provide targeted care that works for you as per your medical history.

You cannot treat prescription drug addiction without taking into account what fuelled it. Was it over-prescription? Was it because of past addictions? Depression or other untreated mental illness? The experts at California Behavioral Health ensure the patient gets the right kind of support and treatment that effectively gets rid of the root cause behind the pain pill addiction. 

Importance of Family Support

While we can ensure the best possible care to the patients, it may not be enough. Often, family support is what gets patients through to the end. It gives them the strength they need to rebuild their functioning mechanism.

Imagine it like teaching them how to walk again. The brain has to learn how to function with what it has convinced itself is necessary for survival. It can be incredibly difficult.

Why Choose CBH for Painkiller Addiction Treatment? 

At California Behavioral Health, we offer word-class treatment facilities to our patients. Our experts and staff create a friendly and supportive environment that is necessary for effective painkiller addiction treatment. We even have an opioid rehab center for cases that prove exceptionally difficult and require special attention and care, such as oxycodone addiction and  Percocet addiction.

Our treatment focuses on self-empowerment, which helps patients rediscover themselves and gives them a new purpose in life. It is geared towards self-growth, which can help them in all areas of life. We are always willing to answer any questions you may have regarding our services, so feel free to reach out to us.


  • My name is Matthew and I was a resident here at CBH from 6/22/2020 through 7/23/2020.. I just Graduated the program in 32 days and I am writing this because I am truly Thankful to them All.. I would like to Give CBH 7 Stars but it will only like me give 5.

    Matthew N.
  • I came to California Behavioral Health when I was finally at the point where I thought life was no longer worth living. Once I got to CBH my whole life changed as I have never met more caring people in my whole life.

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  • Let me start by saying that this place has saved my life as I had been struggling with alcoholism since getting out of college. I had tried numerous 12 step programs and always experienced somewhere that I always struggled to relate with. Once I arrived at California Behavioral Health, they welcomed me with open arms.

    Andy W

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