Prescription painkillers have garnered a great deal of media attention in recent months and years. A handful of celebrity overdoses have brought to the spotlight the risks of these powerful opioid drugs, highlighting the fact that their misuse can be fatal.
As patients and health-conscious Americans, many of us take to our own research or seek second opinions about prescriptions and medical treatment. With seemingly overwhelmed doctors today recommending prescriptions sometimes too quickly, these 5 things you didn’t know about painkillers may or may not come up in conversation during your next doctor visit.
Prescription Painkiller Facts
Take these 5 important facts into consideration and make your own educated decision about painkillers before accepting a prescription.
- Taking more than the prescribed dosage of a painkiller will likely produce an adverse or dangerous reaction.
Opioid pill takers often experience nausea and vomiting due to intolerance, but more seriously they can experience bleeding in the stomach that requires hospitalization for treatment.
2. Long-term use of a prescription painkiller can produce dependency.
Although dependency and addiction are two different stages, the first can lead to the latter rather rapidly. Once the body becomes used to a certain dosage of a painkiller, more and more of the drug is required in order for it to be effective. This buildup of tolerance can also lead to withdrawal symptoms and mental dependency. Generally speaking, most doctors don’t recommend usage of a heavy painkiller for periods of time extending 1-2 weeks unless for severe injury or post-surgery.
[See video on opioid withdrawal and treatment.]
3. About 80% of the world’s total manufactured opiate painkillers are consumed right here in the US.
Over 100 tons of heavily addictive painkillers are consumed by US patients every year. Experts tie this statistic to a rise in crime and addiction.
4. Excessive use of painkillers can cause serious vital organ damage.
According to the Director of the FDA’s Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Dr. Gerald Dal Pan, excessive use of Tylenol and Acetaminophen is the number one cause of sudden liver failure in US patients today. Heavier painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin also run the risk of damaging both your liver and kidneys if taken too much.
5. Millions Americans admit to abuse of prescription painkillers non-medically.
Although experts are unable to pin an exact number of prescription painkiller addicts in the US today, it is estimated to be in the millions. In 2010 alone, 2.4 million Americans abused prescription painkillers for the first time. This adds up to nearly 7,000 people abusing these dangerous pills for the first time every single day.
Prevention Painkiller Addiction in Your Household
Despite the highly addictive nature of prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin and Oxycodone, these drugs are sometimes medically necessary due to injury, gunshot wounds, surgery, etc.
These few simple preventative actions can be taken to reduce the risk of painkiller addiction in your home:
- Properly dispose of prescriptions that are no longer needed. This will eliminate the possibility of them getting into the wrong hands.
- Voice your concerns to your doctor. Ensure he/she knows you would like to closely monitor your physical and mental reactions to the painkillers which are medically necessary for you.
- Seek a second opinion. Chiropractors, holistic doctors, nutritionists and acupuncturists may have a natural pain relief option which works better for you.
- Monitor your own reactions and tolerance levels closely. You know your body better than anyone. Watch for signs of withdrawal or other adverse changes to your physical health, which may result from a painkiller.
For more information on painkillers, contact us today.