When we think of an substance abuse addict, Hollywood plays a major roll in what we imagine. We may see a man sitting in an ally dazed and dirty, skinny from malnutrition, in a pile of vomit or blood with a needle sticking out of his arm.
We may also picture a young woman in skimpy clothing hoping to get a customer so she can score another hit.
These images aren’t always wrong, but they aren’t always right either. Consider this. A construction worker hurts his back at work and is given vicoden for the pain. The pain subsides, but he still finds himself wanting the vicoden. He knows that the pain in his back is better, but he still takes the vicoden.
Is he an addict? Most people would not think so. His doctor keeps giving him the prescription, so he must need it right? Not necessarily. A doctor cannot test definitively for pain, nor can he say the patient is lying. Since the patient has never had a problem with drug addiction, the doctor has no reason to believe the patient may be addicted now. Besides, it is easy to fake pain to a doctor.
It is much harder to fake pain to your family and friends, so even if the doctor doesn’t know that the patient is different, his family and friends certainly do. He has become irritable and on edge. He is moody and he has begun taking higher doses then prescribed. This is definitely the face of drug addiction