How to Recognize the Signs of Pain Killer Addiction

Three Methods:Recognizing Signs of Painkiller Abuse in YourselfRecognizing Signs of Painkiller Abuse in a Friend or Family MemberRecognizing Signs of Painkiller Abuse in a Teenager

Many people use prescription and over-the-counter painkillers every day and do not experience any addictive behaviors. However, for some, painkillers are incredibly addictive. Although there are many different types of painkillers, the signs of abuse are similar.

Method 1
Recognizing Signs of Painkiller Abuse in Yourself

  1. 1
    Notice changes to your relationships. When you are addicted, you may begin fighting with your spouse or significant other, especially when you haven’t had your painkiller fix. You may distance yourself from friends and family members, and start to form new friendships with other people who are addicted to painkillers. You will also notice that your performance in places like school and work will suffer, making it harder to build relationships there.[1]
  2. 2
    Pay attention to how many painkillers you are taking. Once a tolerance is built, you take more to receive the same high that you once felt. You may feel like you are unable to control your urge to take more drugs, even though you know the drugs are hurting you. You will also notice that you get less relief from any pain when you take your medication.
  3. 3
    Be aware of the situations that you end up in. You may start to share needles, frequent dangerous neighborhoods, or drive while under the influence. If you notice yourself having a disregard for life or safety in order to have access to pain killers, you are likely addicted.[2]

Method 2
Recognizing Signs of Painkiller Abuse in a Friend or Family Member

  1. 1
    Watch how many painkillers the person takes. You may notice that they are taking more than prescribed or recommended. You may also notice that the person complains that the painkillers are not strong enough or that they need more. Also, mixing medications to achieve a stronger effect can signal an addiction.
  2. 2
    Notice physical changes. Over time, painkiller abuse may change the person’s appearance. Significant weight changes, dilated or constricted pupils, and frequent bruising may be indicative of a drug addiction. Glazed and bloodshot eyes are also telltale signs of drug abuse.[3]
  3. 3
    Make note of any illegal or desperate activities. Getting arrested for buying or selling painkillers is a huge red flag. Pawning items for money frequently might be indicative of drug abuse. Also, stealing and selling or pawning other’s items is a common behavior to pay for painkillers.[4]
  4. 4
    Pay attention to changes in their work and social life. They will likely begin distancing themselves from friends and family. You might notice that they start to hang out with a new group of friends. The person might also start to lose interest in their work or school.[5]

Method 3
Recognizing Signs of Painkiller Abuse in a Teenager

  1. 1
    A teenager who is abusing drugs may suddenly have trouble in school. Abrupt changes in grades can be a warning sign of an addiction. As can skipping school, or suddenly being in trouble in class. You might also be concerned if sports or extracurriculars that used to be important suddenly lose their appeal.[6]
  2. 2
    They may become more secretive. They may demand more privacy than normal. This might include staying locked in their bedroom, locking their door while they are gone, and hiding things. Your teenager might also start dodging questions or lying about where they have been or who they were with.[7]
  3. 3
    You might suspect that they are lying to you. They may lie to you about missing possessions, where they are going, and who they are friends with. You might also notice that they have more, or less, money than you think they should have with no explanation. A refusal to talk about things like where they have been or how school is going is also a red flag.[8]
    • A sudden change in interests and friends may also be a sign of drug abuse. You can expect some changes in your teenager’s friends and interests. However, if your teenager brushes off your questions or lies about why their friends and interests have shifted, this might be a sign of painkiller abuse. This is especially true if the new friends have a reputation for, or connections to, painkiller abuse.


  • Seek professional help right away if you think you or a loved one is experiencing drug addiction.
  • Set clear rules and consequences for your teenagers regarding drug use.


  • Painkiller abuse is dangerous and can be life threatening.

Article Info

Categories: Drug Addictions