(BeWellBuzz) Brace yourselves for this shocking report – according to a recent report from Brandeis University, painkillers cause deadlier overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined.
This staggering report is indeed a shock. We all know painkillers as harmless allies that help us whenever that perennial knee pain bugs us, or whenever muscle pain hinders us from doing our everyday tasks. However, these seemingly innocent pain relievers such as methadone, Opana (oxymorphone), OxyContin (oxycodone), and Vicodin (hydrocodone) may prove to bring serious side effects after all.
The Killer in Painkillers, According to Research
According to Rep. Hal Rogers, this epidemic of fatalities from prescription drug abuse is already taking its toll on federal and state time, manpower, and money. As such, they see it as a crucial goal for health officials to really look into this alarming report and provide a solution for long-term results.
However, what this move fails to consider is the fact that doctors prescribe these medications at such a high frequency. In fact, it was found out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that in 2010, the amount of painkillers prescribed was enough to get the entire American population on a 24-hour painkiller medication for an entire month. This overwhelmingly large amount of legitimately prescribed painkillers is enough to send out waves of concern regarding how these medications are actually regulated.
Add to this already alarming data the findings from the American Journal of Medicine stating that painkillers increase the risk of heart disease for older people, and another report from the CDC stating that 15,000 Americans suffer and die from prescription painkiller overdose each year. All these reports from recognized institutions imply the same thing – extreme caution has to be observed in prescribing and taking painkillers.
The Vicious Cycle of Taking Painkillers
It is but a normal tendency for people to take painkillers whenever any part of their body is in pain. This move is understandable – we all need to be somewhere doing important tasks, so we have to be in good condition to accomplish our daily errands. A muscle pain, a toothache, or menstrual cramps, for instance, greatly hinders our productivity and efficiency at work or in school – hence we run to painkillers for immediate relief.
What we usually fail to realize (until we really think about it) is that these painkillers are not the ultimate solutions to these pains. Pain is just a symptom of an underlying illness, and this illness should be addressed as soon as possible in order to avoid any future episodes of pain. For instance, toothache may be caused by tooth decay, which then goes back oral hygiene and food choices. Muscle pain may go back to weak muscles due to low protein intake. Menstrual cramps may be due to too much salt and sugar intake before menstruation. In order to skip taking painkillers, what we really need to address are the deeper problems. Continuing to down prescription painkillers without targeting the underlying problem is just like cutting weeds without taking out their roots.
Side Effects of Painkillers
When seen individually, the side effects of painkillers do not seem harmless – after all, we experience nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, and lack of focus every once in a while. But when viewed from a larger perspective, these individual side effects can prove to be fatal. For instance, if your job involves handling heavy equipment or driving a vehicle and you’re drowsy or nauseated, serious consequences may fall upon your job or worse, on your safety.
Once a person becomes too dependent on painkillers and takes them for longer periods of time, more serious consequences are well underway for him/her. Some of these disturbing side effects can include:
- physical and mental dependency
- stomach ulcers
- internal bleeding
- urinary tract infections
- heart attacks
- kidney failure
- liver damage
All these data were reported by various research bodies such as the University of Florida, American Heart Association, researchers from Denmark, and the British Medical Journal.
Healthy Alternatives: Natural Painkillers and a Lifestyle Change
A lifestyle change as simple as daily exercise is already a big step toward preventing or minimizing body pain episodes. Careful watch on what we eat and drink is also a good way to prevent illnesses which then cause the pain for which we’d usually need painkillers. An overall change in diet and exercise is what should be done in order to “cut the weeds right from their roots.” This way, we won’t ever have to need painkillers anymore.
Natural alternatives are also available for us to utilize. If you have joint and/or muscle pain, turmeric and magnesium spray are one of the best options that helps get rid off inflammation in the body. Acupuncture can do wonders for any headaches and migraines.
However, if you must absolutely take painkillers for emergency purposes, make sure to tell your doctor to give you the mildest, safest, and smallest dosage for you. Then, have your doctor examine the body area in pain so that long-term solutions can be suggested for permanent recovery.