Is ‘Accidental Opioid Addiction’ Real?

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Fox News covered the story of a 45-year-old mother with 3 children who is married to a college sweetheart now running an investment firm. This woman has a master’s degree in education, has traveled around the world with her family, and volunteers often at her local church. The feature then discussed that this mother had a drug addiction due to “accidental addiction”; this term was defined as when a person “trips down the rabbit-hole of addiction after being prescribed pain or anxiety medications by a well-intentioned doctor.” There are many factors that have placed a person at high-risk for accidental addiction, such as underlying mental health issues, childhood issues, trauma, or certain temperaments. Whether your story relates to the one mentioned above or not, you may be wondering, “Is accidental addiction real?”

This question is a bit more complex than what it seems on the surface. Contrary to the widespread belief that most individuals with opioid addiction fall into it accidentally, many people who abuse opioids or have become addicted to them also have a substance use history with other drugs, as well as psychological problems poly-drug use. In fact, it seems that many people who become addicted to opioids aren’t even the ones prescribed them – a 2018 study published in BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical journal, found that only 1% of people who took prescription pain medication following surgery showed signs of opioid misuse. Furthermore, a 2014 analysis conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 54% of non-medical users got their prescription opioids for free from friends and family. It seems that opioid addiction isn’t as much of an accident, after all. Does this mean that accidents don’t occur?

Accidents can certainly occur, they are just less likely to occur than people tend to believe. Women are more susceptible for “accidental addiction” due to their hormones – higher levels of estrogen make women more likely to experience a “high” from opioids, and women are more likely to seek help from a doctor than men anyways, making them more likely to obtain a prescription in the first place. If you have been prescribed painkillers, remember to follow the directions exactly as prescribed. Maintain regular check-ups with your doctor to ensure you aren’t becoming dependent on them, and properly wean yourself off the medication with your doctor’s help when the time is right. If you feel you are becoming addicted to them, seek treatment right away. The sooner you seek help, the better.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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