(CBS News) Abusing painkillers is a big problem in the U.S. - about 12 million people said they used painkillers for non-medical reasons in the past year, according to recent CDC estimates.
A new study found rates of newborns born addicted to opiate drugs tripled over the past decade, driven by legal and illegal use of opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone, CBS News reported. The number of newborns with withdrawal symptoms increased from a little more than 1 per 1,000 babies in 2000 to more than 3 per 1,000 in 2009, according to the study.
Opioid addiction is a chronic medical condition caused in part by brain changes that can result from regularly using drugs such as oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone and morphine. Opioid dependence is even considered a chronic brain disease by the American Society for Addiction Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and left untreated, can be fatal.
The good news is that opioid dependence can be effectively treated - but part of the problem is recognizing the signs that someone you love is abusing the drugs in the first place.
With help from Dr. Carlos Tirado, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Austin and clinical director of chemical dependency services at Seton Shoal Creek Hospital, here are 5 signs someone you love might be abusing prescription painkillers and how to help: