Overcoming
painkiller dependence

Why overcome dependence?1

Being dependent on opioid painkillers is not only harmful to yourself, but also affects those around you. The desire for the substance starts to become more important than other things that you used to value, and it starts to control your life.

When you take steps to overcome dependence, you start to get your life back on track. In particular you are likely to see improvements in:

Woman with glasses drinking a cup of tea and watching television.
Since 1992 there has been a 15x increase in PBS dispensing of opioid painkillers

Facing the difficulties of overcoming dependence

The benefits of overcoming dependence are far-reaching as you get back to health, and your relationships, family life and work can flourish once again.

When the body becomes dependent on opioid medications, it can be very difficult to stop taking them. As it starts to adjust to stopping or reducing opioids, the body goes into a state of ‘withdrawal’, which is extremely uncomfortable. Opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

diarrhoea
goose bumps
 
muscle aches and pains
nausea
runny nose
 
anxiety
teary eyes
hot and cold sweats
irritability
 
yawning
agitation
stomach cramps
 
insomnia
vomiting
low energy

The important thing to remember is that you don’t need to go through this alone and help is available. There are a number of treatment options that can help you overcome your dependence so that you can start living the life you want.

Get help and get back to life

Help is available to beat dependence on opioid painkillers. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can look forward to getting your life back on track and we’re here to help support you on your journey.

A man talking to his doctor.
Talk to your doctor

If you find the prospect of talking to a doctor difficult, ask someone close to you for support by accompanying you to your doctor’s appointment. Doctors understand that opioid painkiller dependence is a condition that requires treatment and will be very open to helping you, so there is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed.

An elderly woman talking to her doctor.
Ask about treatment options

Your doctor will be able to provide you with information on treatment options and help with making the right choice for you. It’s important that you understand the treatment options available so you can make a decision that fits your individual circumstances – optimising your chances of recovery.

Opioid dependence stories

Listen to stories of how opioid dependence has affected people and their loved ones.

Story - Helena Story - Murray Story - Ledger Story - Jessica

These videos depict individual experiences with opioid dependence. Please speak to your doctor about what is right for you.

References: 1. WHO. Guidelines for the Psychosocially Assisted Pharmacological Treatment of Opioid Dependence, 2009.