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Prescription Painkillers and Opioids

woman abusing prescription painkillersPrescription painkillers, or opioids, are drugs originally derived from the poppy plant to help manage pain. Opioids have a long history of being prescribed as strong pain medications and a long history of being a drug of choice for recreational users. Understanding opioids and the opioid epidemic is critical to getting people connected with the help they need.

Opioids is an umbrella term that covers a variety of psychoactive drugs that mimic the brain’s neurotransmitters to dull pain and induce euphoria. The term encompasses any number of pills, patches, liquids, and powders that have been formulated for maximum effect. When ingested, prescription painkillers or opioids enter into the bloodstream and ultimately the brain. In the brain, opioids convert to morphine and bind to opioid receptors in the brain, relieving pain and spreading euphoria. In recent years, opioid abuse has increased dramatically in what is being called the opioid epidemic. This sharp increase in the number of people struggling with opioid abuse disorders and overdoses starts with the use or abuse of prescription painkillers. Roughly 1 in patients who are prescribed prescription painkillers misuse them. Between 8 and 12 percent of patients who misuse prescription painkillers develop an opioid use disorder. Repeated prescription painkiller abuse can result in disruption in what is called the reward pathway, the brain functions that control motivation, reward-seeking, and the perception of pleasure. It is this disruption that makes opioids incredibly addicting. Tolerance begins to build quickly, and you find yourself needing higher and higher doses taken more frequently. As legitimate prescriptions run out, some people begin seeking out off-label prescriptions or street drugs like heroin. The spiral of addiction can take hold rapidly; if you believe you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers, our TruHealing Centers team can help. We provide a wide array of therapy options so that you can address and heal the underlying causes of your addiction. Learn more today by calling 833.631.0525 or completing our online form.

Signs of Abuse

This section covers a wide variety of drugs, including prescription painkillers and a variety of opiates and opioids. All of these drugs create similar reactions in the brain, and active users share some of the same signs of abuse. These are powerful substances that affect many of the body’s systems, including the brain, and can have deadly repercussions.

  • Physical symptoms:
    • Dilated pupils
    • Dry mouth
    • Shortness of breath, shallow breathing
    • Disorientation
    • Drowsiness
    • Slurred speech
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
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Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal does not always look the same, and every individual will go through it differently. There are a number of factors that influence what withdrawal symptoms you will face and how long they will last. These include how long you were taking opioids, what dose you were taking, and how you were taking them. Withdrawal symptoms can start 6-12 hours from the last time you used and peak 24-72 hours from that time. Acute symptoms generally begin to subside after 7 days but can last longer depending on a number of factors. Withdrawal affects many of the body’s systems; heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and body temperature can fluctuate to extreme degrees; it is highly recommended that you seek medical care when attempting to stop taking opioids.

  • Shaking, tremors
  • Runny nose
  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Goosebumps
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Muscle pain or spasms
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hypertension
  • Depression
  • Anhedonia, difficulty feeling pleasure
  • Drug cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Difficult breathing
  • Agitation, restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Prescription painkillers can be ingested, or broken down to be smoked, snorted or injected. Identifying common paraphernalia can help determine whether an individual is abusing prescription painkillers.


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  • Empty pill bottles – determine whether prescription painkillers are being used quicker than intended


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  • Lighters/ Candles – heat source
  • Straws or similar – used to capture smoke and steam given off by heat
  • Aluminum foil, cigarettes, rolling papers, pipes – All can be improvised to smoke crushed prescription painkillers


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  • Rolled dollar bills, cut straws, or similar – used for snorting crushed prescription painkillers
  • Razor blades or similar – used to cut crushed prescription painkillers into “lines” for snorting
  • Small mirrors or glass – surface for snorting of crushed prescription painkillers


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  • Hypodermic needles – used to inject liquefied prescription painkillers
  • Cotton balls – used to filter liquefied prescription painkillers for impurities
  • Shoelaces, rubber hoses, length of string or similar – used to “tie off,” restricting blood flow on one’s limbs to make veins pop out

Brand/ Type/ Generic

There are a number of opioids distributed under a number of brand names. The following are some names to look out for as prescription painkillers that may be abused.

  • Acetaminophen with codeine- Tylenol #2, #3, #4
  • Buprenorphine – Butrans
  • Butorphanol
  • Fentanyl – Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora
  • Hydrocodone – Zohydro ER, Hysingla ER
  • Hydrocodone with Acetaminophen – Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Elixir
  • Hydrocodone with ibuprofen – Vicoprofen
  • Hydromorphone – Dilaudid, Exalgo
  • Meperidine – Demerol, Merpergan
  • Methadone – Dolophine, Methadose
  • Morphine – MS-Contin, Avinza, Kadian
  • Nalbuphine – Nubain
  • Oxycodone – OxyContin, OxyFast, Roxicodone
  • Oxycodone with acetaminophen – Roxicet, Endocet, Percocet
  • Oxycodone with aspirin – Percodan
  • Oxycodone with ibuprofen – Combunox
  • Oxycodone and naloxone – Targiniq ER
  • Oxymorphone – Opana, Opana ER
  • Pentazocine – Talwin
  • Pentazocine with naloxone – Talwin NX
  • Propoxyphene with aspirin
  • Propoxyphene with acetaminophen
  • Tapentadol – Nucynta, Nucynta ER
  • Tramadol – Ultram
  • Tramadol with acetaminophen – Ultracet

Detox Process

TruHealing Centers’ detox facilities offer medically assisted detox for individuals facing acute withdrawal from prescription painkiller addiction, as well as inpatient and outpatient therapy programs designed to build the skills for long term recovery. While we are an abstinence-based treatment program that medications administered under medical supervision can be a valuable resource during acute withdrawal. Our staff will assess each individual’s needs, and help design a plan for them to taper their use smoothly and safely, with the least amount of discomfort.

Begin Addiction Treatment at TruHealing Centers Today

At TruHealing Centers, we offer the full continuum of care, from intensive inpatient programs through a number of outpatient levels of care. We believe, supported by evidence, that a longer stay in treatment sets patients up for a better chance at long-term recovery. We are committed to helping every individual achieve long-term recovery. This means treating not only the physical addiction but addressing the mental and spiritual aspects as well. Our staff will create an individualized treatment plan with you, using a variety of therapeutic modalities to help every individual build the skills for long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription painkiller abuse, dealing with acute withdrawal, have just completed detox or another level of care and are looking for the next step in recovery, contact our team today by calling 833.631.0525 or completing our online form. Our team of treatment professionals can help you feel like yourself again. Learn more today.

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Step 1

First, reach out to our TruHealing Centers team today by calling 833.631.0525 or completing our online form. Our team of specialists can guide you through the admissions process and get you on the path to recovery from prescription drug or opioid addiction.

Step 2

Next, our team will perform a complete examination of your mental and physical health. We then use this information to create a customized treatment program that addresses your recovery needs.

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Step 3

Finally, you can begin your addiction treatment at TruHealing Centers. Our team will collaborate with you to ensure that you are an active participant in your recovery.

Knowledge Bank

Our team of therapists and addiction specialists will work with you to determine which programs would be best. One of more programs may be combined for maximum effectiveness during your recovery.

Our team of therapists and addiction specialists provide a wide array of programs and services to begin and maintain your recovery. We also provide a safe environment where people can heal from addiction. There are many TruHealing Centers locations, so you can find one close to where you live.

Take the first step to overcome addiction by calling our team at 833.631.0525 or completing our online contact form.