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Pain killer addiction, while still a severe problem, tends to be researched or discussed less frequently than addiction(s) to alcohol and other "street" drugs. Pain killers are often used to treat persons who have been unexpectedly overcome with severe pain and who require some alleviation of this pain for normal or even functional living. Just because these drugs are administered "legally," however, the addiction problem as a result can be just as severe and life threatening as addiction to any other chemical substance. And just like one becomes physiologically and mentally dependent on alcohol and heroin, the same occurs when one experiences addiction to pain killers.
The problem with pain killers is twofold: they are legally distributed to several million Americans each year and they are very addictive by nature. Such common pain killers as Vicodin and even Oxycontin have become among numerous prescription narcotics to adversely affect otherwise non-drug using men and women. While the use, as already stated, generally starts as a response to an unplanned and uncontrolled stimulus (pain, in this case), the addiction then manifests as a chemical dependency develops over time. At this point, more and more amounts of the pain killer(s) are taken to alleviate pain. And in some cases, the pain can become psychosomatic, just so that the now addicted person can find an "excuse" to continue or justify indulgence.