3 Major Signs a Patient is Addicted to Pain Medication | Atkinson's Pharmacy Group

3 Major Signs a Patient is Addicted to Pain Medication

With millions of opioid prescriptions being doled out every year, the topic of addiction has never been more relevant than it is today. One of the easiest ways to spot an addict is to observe their physical appearance. An addict may have bloodshot eyes or have gone through a sudden weight change. They may have poor coordination, slurred speech or emanate strange body odors. But it’s not always as obvious as just seeing a person on a daily basis. Caregivers should learn more about the signs of this dreaded disease if they want to be effective in their jobs.

Growing Preoccupations

An addicted patient will typically become obsessed with when their next dose will be and where it’s coming from. They may try to hide this behavior as much as possible, but most addicts can’t keep it a secret for very long. Addiction symbolizes an emotional connection with the drug as well as the physical. When you confront an addict, it’s a deeply personal accusation for them. A person in intense pain following a recent medical procedure can be forgiven for obsessively looking forward to their next dose, but if it goes on for weeks after, the person is likely using the medication for more than just physical pain.

Seeking Out New Sources

Addicted patients typically won’t stick to the rules once their addiction takes hold, and these infractions can take a number of different forms. For example, the addict may hoard the medication in order to splurge on it later. If they’re told they can’t get a refill from one source, they may try asking multiple sources to see if they get another answer. They may lie about the level of their pain or tell people different stories to see which one elicits the right response. They may even start stealing medication from other patients or attempt to order more of their medication from the internet.

Behavioral Changes

Caregivers know they have their work cut out for them when it comes to trying to help people in a state of pain. But even the most damaged person will begin to change their behavior when they become addicted. They may become angry, withdrawn or extremely defensive if a caregiver attempts to broach the subject with them. If a patient has been on medication for a while and has grown more angry, irritable, or nervous, this is a prime sign of addiction. Emotions play a heavy role in how quickly a patient recovers from their addiction. For example, a person with extreme anger will need to have their anger and addiction treated at the same time.

Turn to Atkinson’s Pharmacy

Experts from across the country, including Caroline Johnson, the deputy commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, do not believe the opioid crisis is coming to an end anytime soon. If you believe that one of your patients is addicted to painkillers, you should intervene as soon as possible. Inform a supervisor or your colleagues so you can devise a plan to confront the addict and encourage them to get help. Atkinson’s Pharmacy specializes in finding solutions in long-term care. It’s our goal to give both caregivers and patients the tools they need to live happier, healthier lives. If you want to learn more about how we can play a positive role in the life of an addict, contact Atkinson’s Pharmacy today.