Prescription Painkiller Addiction

Do you or a loved one feel you have an addiction to prescription painkillers? Here at Which Rehab, we can help.  Our free confidential phone line is available 24/7 to provide advice and guidance on your pain killer addiction and help you get the right treatment you need.  We work will a wide range of drug rehabs UK-wide to help you find the right treatment for you.

What Are Prescription Painkillers?

Prescription painkillers are opioid-based drugs that are prescribed to release an individual from chronic or acute pain. They are used in a lot of cases as they contain chemicals that can relax the body and quickly relieve pain. Common prescription painkillers include Co-codamol, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Despite relieving pain, they are also known to produce a warm fuzzy feeling that people can become addicted to as any stresses, worries and pains are washed away with the drug. 

Xanax addiction
Painkiller addiction

Are Prescription Painkillers Addictive?

Yes they can be!

Any prescription painkillers have the risk of becoming addictive depending on the length of time and personal history you have with using them. It's impossible for GP’s to measure the amount of pain an individual is in and therefore it can often become an easy mistake to overprescribe to a patient. Addiction starts off being something that offers relief and an escape. For those in chronic or acute pain, the relief of stress and pain that taking prescription painkillers brings can become addictive quite easily. Opioids encourage the release of endorphins which muffle the perception of pain and boost the feeling of pleasure. When this feeling wears off, you might find yourself craving the feeling again, this is usually how the path towards addiction begins to form. 

Symptoms of Presription Painkiller Addiction 

There are clear signs to look out for regarding identifying if you or someone you care about is addicted to prescription painkillers.  

If you find yourself thinking about your medication a lot, this is a common symptom to addiction. This coincides with planning when you can take your next dose or constantly thinking about how many tablets you might have left. Additionally. if you are taking more medication than what your doctor is prescribing to you daily, this is a clear sign that a problem is prevalent. Furthermore, if you’ve been taking painkillers for a prolonged amount of time, there’s always the possibility that you might be addicted as you may have built a dependency on the drug without realising it.  

Other symptoms include: 

  • Visiting multiple doctors in an attempt to obtain several prescriptions for painkillers 
  • Stealing or ‘borrowing’ painkillers 
  • Continuing to take prescription painkillers even after the pain for which they were prescribed has subsided 
  • Focusing more and more time on obtaining, using and recovering from the effects of painkillers 
  • Feeling as though painkillers have taken over your life 
  • Feeling as though you want to stop taking painkillers but finding that you are unable to do so 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Feelings of shame, guilt and hopelessness 
  • Intense mood swings 
  • Continuing to use painkillers even when you have experienced negative repercussions as a result 
  • Lying to loved ones about the extent of your painkiller use 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Finding that you only tend to associate with other drug addicts 
  • Possessing syringes, needles, and other paraphernalia related to injecting painkiller drugs 
  • Developing a tolerance to painkillers, means that you need to take more of the drug, and with increasing frequency, in order to feel the desired effects 
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you haven’t taken painkillers for a certain amount of time or try to cut back on the amount of the drug that you are using 

Withdrawal Symptoms From Prescription Painkiller Addiction

If you are addicted to prescription painkillers, it's very hard to come off them as, if you stop taking them immediately you can suffer from withdrawal symptoms which can be very unpleasant and painful.  The symptoms that you experience will vary depending on the level of withdrawal you are going through.  

You experience withdrawal symptoms because prolonged use of the drugs changes your nerve receptors making them dependant on the drug. Withdrawal symptoms occur in the absence of the drugs as this is your body’s physical response to missing something that it has become used to.  

Early symptoms include: 

  • Restlessness 
  • Anxiety 
  • Yawning frequently 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Other symptoms depend on your level of addiction. 

Symptoms tend to worsen after the first day you stop taking prescription painkillers completely, symptoms include: 

  • Diarrhoea 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Nausea and vomiting  
  • Possible blurry vision 

It’s important to consider that the severity of your addiction will dictate the level of your withdrawal symptoms.  

Treatment Options For Painkiller Addiction

Here at Which Rehab we can help you find the right treatment and rehab program for you. Working with the best quality rehabs UK-wide, we are committed to helping our patients overcome this dangerous addiction. We understand that initially, the hardest part is admitting that you have a serious problem and seeking help. If a friend or a loved one is struggling to accept they have a problem with prescription painkillers, intervention helps to successfully break the denial they have. Once you have overcome this first hurdle; you can begin to get your life back on track.  

The most common treatment option for prescription painkiller addiction is a Detoxification process. During the detox process, you will stay in a medically controlled environment where all traces of the painkiller will be removed from your system. As previously mentioned, withdrawal symptoms will come alongside the detoxification process however, you will have constant medical support to ensure you detox safely. 

Following a drug detox, if further treatment is required, an inpatient drug rehab is the next step where effective forms of therapy including cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and 12 step programs will take place. An inpatient rehab helps keep you from normal activities that may trigger drug abuse cravings, enabling you to focus on full recovery.  

Struggling with painkiller addiction


  • There are three times more deaths in the Northeast of the UK than in London, partly reflecting a greater usage of opioids amongst the socially disadvantaged.  
  • There has been a more than 100% rise in the prescription of anti-depressants in the UK over the last decade. Prescriptions have increased from 12 to 24 million in the past decade. 
  • Of 115,000 prescriptions issued for opioids every day, five results in a death.