Despite warnings from doctors, scientists, and government agencies, many people still do not understand the dangers of a variety of drugs. The typical media view of a drug addict standing on a street corner or in a crack house does not apply in many cases. It is important to understand why some seemingly normal people become addicted to drugs. One of the lesser known routes to addiction is elective or necessary surgery.
Medications Used During and After Surgery
Doctors use a variety of extremely addictive medications during surgery and to prevent pain after surgery. These medications include:
- nitrous oxide
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as of 2014 almost 2 million people reported prescription painkiller or anesthetic addiction.
The majority of these drugs are highly addictive and require treatment if you become dependent or addicted to them. For more information on finding a treatment center for any of these drugs, call 800-743-5860(Who Answers?).
Recognizing the Signs of Pain Killer or Anesthetic Addiction
According to the Mayo Clinic, prescription pain killer and anesthetic abuse has very definite signs and symptoms.
Pain killer or opioid abuse signs:
- nausea sometimes accompanied by vomiting
- lack of coordination
- increased tolerance and the in need for increased dosages
Anesthetic abuse signs:
- unsteadiness in walking or movement
- problems with memory
- slowed breathing and heart rate
- lack of concentration
On top of these signs there are also more general signs to drug abuse and addiction. Some of these are:
- poor decision making and increased risk taking
- drug seeking behavior
- doctor shopping
- changes in sleep patterns
If you or someone you know has recently recovered from surgery and has these signs of abuse or addiction, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. The faster the abuse is caught and dealt with the greater the chance of recovery.
How do Surgery Patients Wind Up Addicts?
Although many patients go through surgery and do not find themselves addicted to their pain medication, many of them do. It usually starts with legitimate pain. Doctors often prescribe a pain killer after surgery. These pain killers are usually opiates and are very similar to heroin in chemical makeup.
If you have any predisposition to addiction, you are at risk after surgery. Some people become addicted simply from the initial pain killer prescription. Others have lasting pain from the surgery, so the doctor writes them another prescription for pain killer or possibly a prescription for a different pain killer.
As this practice goes on the surgical patient builds a tolerance to the pain killers requiring more of them or higher dosages. This eventually causes dependence at the very least and addiction at the very worst.