How do you get addicted to painkillers if you have no pain?

The DEA took over “House” about 3 years ago. They’d be complaining since season 1 that a smart, witty character who is the hero of the show, who always has the answer and is always the smartest guy in the room can “abuse” vicodin without any negative affects. Finally Fox and the show’s producers caved in to the DEA’s demands and gave them final script approval. Then they started with the whole “vicodin makes Dr. House see dead people and go crazy” crap, which is when I stopped watching the show. The DEA’s war on pain patients is often played out in the media through propaganda that would make Joseph Goebbels ashamed.

Only if you count caffeine or video games. I drink alcohol in moderation just fine, but haven’t ever tried tobacco or illegal drugs. I have 1-2 cups of coffee a day, and sometimes will have a withdrawal headache if I postpone the morning cup until lunchtime or so.

I’m not sure I’d describe what I felt as getting “high,” necessarily, but it was quite a stress relief while it lasted.

You got a cite for this?

If your question was directed at me, I can only say that I don’t know how people get addicted to those. I don’t know the sensation. I just assume something like heroin makes you feel happy because its supposed to, whereas other painkiller drugs simply kill pain and does nothing else.

I highly doubt it. :rolleyes:

My husband takes long acting morphine for two painful spinal conditions, one of which causes the same symptoms as Ankylosing Spondylitis, and he uses Vicodin for breakthrough pain. He never looks or acts ‘‘high’’; he’s normal. He is dependent on these medications; he has had withdrawal symptoms when he has been hospitalized and put on intravenous morphine, as it works differently from the oral type. Once the admitting MD made adjustments in his dosage, he had no other issues with withdrawal.

Or don’t feel it as badly, at least. I know that if I take ibuprofen before dental work, the work is much less painful and I need less pain relief later.

I do know that the advice these days is more along the lines of “medicate properly up front”, vs “tough it out as long as possible”. I had gallbladder surgery the same week as a friend, I got Percocet and she got Vicodin, on comparing our doses she got, essentially, far less pain-reliever than I did. I was off the stuff in just over 60 hours (plus one nighttime dose a day later), she was on them for nearly a week and had to have a breakthrough painkiller prescribed after a couple of days (Ultram). The difference being, in my mind, that I had my stuff adequately covered from day one, so my body could concentrate on healing instead of being debilitated by pain.

BTW - re the OP: Narcotics are occasionally prescribed for things other than pain, e.g. they’re quite helpful for Restless Legs Syndrome. I know several people for whom non-narcotic options failed, and so they use narcotics.

I’d actually challenge that. I’ve never enjoyed the sensation narcotics give me. Yeah, relaxing, but unpleasantly woozy and like I want to do nothing so much as curl up in bed and sleep it off. Bleh.

Nuvigil (a sort of stimulant, used for narcolepsy and other alertness disorders), on the other hand… scared the crap out of me a couple months back. I’d had something like a week of “good” nights of sleep (quantity-wise, anyway). I took one tablet because we were looking at a long day of driving… and Oh, My, God, I felt GOOD. Not “WHEEEEEE” high or anything, but as if I’d had plenty of sleep and was very well rested. It was a feeling I hadn’t had in many years, and I wanted to feel that way ALL THE TIME. Very, very seductive, and it scared me.

Hasn’t actually proven to be a problem, yet; between the expense, and possibly effect on my BP, I use a lower dose and very intermittently. But it did make me see how someone could get so hooked on feeling “good” that they’d get hooked on the stuff that made them feel that way.

This is especially true for NSAIDS, like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) and for Tylenol. It makes sense if you think of it this way: we think these painkillers work by inhibiting the production of chemicals called prostaglandins. Our nerves need prostaglandins to feel pain. So if you take the drugs before the painful procedure, then your nerves don’t have the prostaglandins they need to feel pain, or at least the amount of them they have is reduced by the medication. If you wait until you feel pain, however, that means there’s plenty of prostaglandins on your nerves right now. Taking the medication may inhibit the production of more of them, but you still have to wait for the existing level to naturally wear off before the pain stops.

This is why it’s easier to prevent pain than to eliminate it once you have it, and “toughing it out” for a while before you ask for your pain medication is counter productive.

As always with drugs, different people can be affected very differently by the same drug. However, your sole experience does not invalidate the fact that the general response to opiates is a pleasant one in the vast majority of people (regardless of whether they are in pain or not).

I am currently at the end of 3 months since I broke my left heel bone and had surgery to repair it. Two weeks ago I peaked at an average of 8 Percocets a day. Now I am down to six and I am weaning myself off to zero slowly, probably in the next month. I am just reaching the point where I am supposed to begin weight bearing on that foot, and full recovery is expected by mid September.

As this is the third time I have broken my left leg, plus I have had many kidney stones and a bout of shingles, I am very familiar with opiates.

Number one, pain relief is the best high in the world, IMHO. The absence of pain is better than any buzz I have ever had.

Opiates do provide a pleasant feeling, and I am quite capable of living my day with that feeling on board. Indeed no-one who interacts with me can tell if I am feeling better than average or not.

But on the whole it is not something I demand be a part of my everyday life, and when I am finished recovering from this injury, I will be happy to be opiate free.

That’s not really true. Heroin is essentially the same as (opiate based) painkiller drugs, only the dosage is usually higher and more fast-acting. You don’t feel mentally “happy” at all, (except maybe relative happiness when counteracting existing withdrawal symptoms) it’s really more a physical happiness and feeling of extreme comfort and relaxation. I guess it’s a blurry line since physical happiness can lead to mental happiness, but I think it’s wrong to simply say that heroin makes you feel happy.

Wow, now I kinda feel cheated. :slight_smile: I had three wisdom teeth out last Friday and was prescribed Percocet (oxycodone with acetominophen) along with some heavy-duty ibuprofen. I’ve taken about six or seven of the oxycodone since then (haven’t had one since yesterday–probably won’t take any more since the pain is nothing big now) but I never once felt happy or euphoric or anything like that. I guess I should be glad–I was asking the spouse about how people got addicted to this stuff, since it didn’t seem like anything special to me other than being pretty good at dulling the pain.

I’m kidding about the “cheated” part. Actually I’m kind of glad I didn’t have any addiction-worthy feelings.

Infovore, congratulations on not liking those things too much.
The painkillers to which my mother got addicted didn’t make her feel good; they didn’t even kill the pain (wrong kind altogether, apparently). They made her woozy, they gave her woolly tongue, she lost self-control and would say out loud the kind of things we’re socially trained to think but not say (yelling at me “you’re a bad daughter” for leaving her side to go feed my brothers; it was also the first time she told me and Middlebro that she’d never wanted us and told me several times she would be happier if we two got run over by a car… thanks Mom, loveyatoo and now eat your soup, open that mouth aaaaaah here’s a plane aaaaaah…)

As bad as having to be housewife with two little boys and two depressed parents, one of them bedridden, was, the reaction to the pills first and to doctors taking her off cold turkey later was the worst part.

Shit, the most “serious” painkiller I’ve ever been on has been codeine.

And it felt WONDERFUL.

In my case, it was limited (by both the prescription and family watchfulness) and I took it, loved it, then left it. Not entirely my own choice; “Mom guilt” was a strong (and good) factor

I can understand completely how people would get hooked on stronger opiates or worse. It just feels good. Fuck, it feels great. But of course then you need it, and then it wrecks you.

If I didn’t have familial checks, I can totally see myself abusing drugs like this. I’m weak like that. Thank God for my family.

Strong chemicals are strong.

No they’re not. Heroin (aka diacetyl morphine) is synthesized from morphine. It’s really considered a semi-synthetic opiate since it’s made from another opiate. Oxycodone is also a semi-synthetic opiate made from thebaine, which itself doesn’t even have a psychoactive effect but has a similar chemical structure to other natural opiates. Purity has nothing to do with it, especially since neither are natural.

Oxycodone does have a somewhat similar effect to heroin, but not more so than most other opiates. The closest thing to heroin is morphine. This is unsurprising since the majority of heroin you consume is quickly metabolized into morphine which is what causes the effects. The benefits of heroin over morphine are that it only takes about 2/3 the dosage to have the same effects and it penetrates the blood-brain barrier more easily getting you high more quickly but only if it’s injected. Oxycodone doesn’t have any of these advantages and a heroin junkie would rather have morphine than oxycodone. However, there are supposedly opioids that are more euphoric than heroin, such as oxymorphone and hydromorphone. Good luck getting those prescribed to you…

Oxycontin is just a slow-release version of oxycodone, not a separate drug.

  1. House is fiction. His addiction is a plot device and the show is not a typical or realistic depiction of opiate or any other drug addiction.

  2. Drugs/alcohol makes addicts/alcoholics feel happy. There is no question about there being a mental/brain chemistry effect.

  3. Don’t assume that how you feel when you take a drug/alcohol it’s the same as everyone else. It’s not. Far from it, in fact.

  4. SSRIs/SNRIs don’t tend to have any abuse potential or recreational value. But that doesn’t stop people from trying, i.e. crushing up their wellbutrin and snorting it in an attempt to get high.

  5. Even though chemically various opiates may be different, from the addict’s perspective they are all the same. Morhpine = heroin = oxycontin = percocet = vicodin. And the acetaminophen combined with various forms doesn’t stop anyone. It’s very easy to separate the opiate from the acetaminophen to avoid liver damage. The only difference to the addict is how they may need/want to administer different drugs - snorting vs. shooting vs. ingesting.