You may be using painkillers now or thinking about taking them because you need relief from chronic or acute pain. Or maybe you started taking them for another reason but in any event you think you’re hooked or addicted or may have a physical dependence or are worried you may be. If you’re thinking about taking them but haven’t started, you may want to reconsider after learning some facts.
Painkillers can be addictive and require higher and higher doses as time goes by. They can be expensive and cause overdose death. More prescriptions are written for narcotics and opioid drugs like methadone, oxycodone and OxyContin than for cholesterol-lowering medications and drugs.
Many doctors don’t have pain management clinics they can refer patients to for treatment so find they write prescriptions for painkillers because they have few options. Of course there are other options and alternative measures but many doctors are not aware of them. They know they can implant devices to stimulate nerves and/or electrically block pain signals for one and acupuncture is an option for some people but may or may not work and can be expensive.
Methadone is often prescribed to replace heroin in addicts and is not truly a pain reliever or painkiller. And methadone is unpredictable and responsible for a high rate of overdose death throughout the United States. One can be taking it fine and then all of a sudden drop dead. Also it does not combine or interact well with other medications or drugs including alcohol. Years ago it was only given to heroin addicts in highly controlled settings and never prescribed.
These overdose deaths to methadone, oxycodone – the main chemical in OxyContin (hillbilly heroin) and opioids and those due to prescription errors are now more common than the overdoses of past for the illegal drugs heroin and cocaine.
Another problem has been that these opioids have not been effective pain relievers or painkillers for certain types of chronic pain including fibromyalgia and a chronic type of muscle pain called myofascial pain.
The side effects of these drugs can cause heart problems, cause sexual problems and reduce testosterone levels. There are a wide range of side effects and adverse reactions with other drugs being taken that are associated with painkillers. And worst of all these painkillers, that are supposed to give you relief, can actually cause a person to suffer more pain – the medical term is hyperalgesia.
The rate of addiction for people taking these drugs is about 10%. The rate for those who become physically dependent on them may be higher. Physical dependence means you may not crave the drugs but it requires more and more of them to relieve your pain.
Many people fear withdrawal from opioids and other narcotics but usually people actually feel better when they get off of them. The fear of being hooked or that one will suffer more pain doesn’t hold up. There is a kind of cycle people get into and find it difficult to drop off of but many have done it successfully.
So if you’re thinking about taking painkillers you might want to reconsider or if you’re taking them now, know that you can get off painkillers for good – many have done it before you.