Celebrity Addictions: What We've Learned

The myths of being hooked on painkillers.

Celebrity Addictions: What We’ve Learned

The myths of being hooked on painkillers.

-Jane Farrell

Lindsay Lohan

We’ve grown so used to hearing stories of stars being hooked on painkillers that it barely registers anymore. Lindsay Lohan, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Nicole Richie, Charlie Sheen: It’s hard to keep up with the latest rehab clients.

But ordinary people are affected, too: Newsweek reports that according to the federal government, painkiller use has gone up 400 percent over the past decade.

With that many users around, it’s a good idea to clear up dangerous myths about these drugs. WebMD spoke with experts and reported these findings and strategies:

*You are not addicted if you need higher doses or have withdrawal symptoms. Many patients need a higher level, and almost everyone has withdrawal symptoms, which is why it’s best to wean yourself off painkillers under a doctor’s supervision so you can quit gradually.
*Everyone gets addicted to painkillers if they take them long enough. Many patients do use painkillers responsibly, without becoming addicted. But signs of trouble include: raising a dose without telling your doctor, and going to several doctors to get multiple prescriptions.

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*Because most people don’t get addicted, I can use painkillers as much as I want. Not true. Irresponsible use sets the stage for addiction, even though it happens in a minority of cases.
*I’m strong. I won’t get addicted. It’s not a matter of willpower. It’s often a matter of genetic factors.
*All that matters is easing my pain. Pain medication is used to help restore function and to enable patients to recover despite some pain. Painkillers are not meant to leave you comatose in a bed, doing nothing.
*My doctor won’t let me become addicted. Patients need to look after their own health. Don’t assume your doctor knows everything or remembers every detail of your case. Read as much as you can about painkillers, and ask him questions. (WebMD, Newsweek)

Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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