The Dangers of Prescription Painkillers



Not that many people actually associate the word ‘danger’ with prescription drugs – prescription implies a doctor, which implies the medical institution that everyone has great faith in. Does this mean there is no danger from prescription drugs? Unfortunately, no. People can and will become addicted to prescription drugs, risking an overdose and potentially their lives.

But why is there such a danger? This article will explain why, looking at dangerous prescription drugs; their effects, dangers and consequences, and what help is out there for people willing to confront their problem.

The Drugs

So what prescription drugs are dangerous? Opiates. Opiates are painkillers that are prescribed when a person is in moderate to severe pain. The most used, and most abused prescribed opiate painkillers are Vicodin and Oxycontin.

Vicodin is a drug with combines paracetamol with a semi-synthetic opiate. It is commonly prescribed for pain relief and chances are some houses will have it lying about in the medicine cabinet having not finished a course of it.

Oxycontin, similarly to Vicodin, has both an opiate and a non narcotic to relieve pain. The level of pain relief provided by the drug can vary depending on the balance between the opiate and the paracetamol. It was originally synthesized to be an alternative to morphine, which provided fast, strong pain relief. In contrast both vicodin and oxycontin provide a less intense pain relief, but one which lasts much longer.

The Dangers

Through no fault of the user, a person who takes opiate based pain relievers will become reliant on the drug. A course of the drug will last however long it needs to depending on the users pain, but they cannot simply stop the drug when they’ve had enough; a user must be weaned off it otherwise the body will experience some extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. That is certainly not the only danger of prescription drugs however.

When using prescription drugs a person may quickly find themselves using the drug as a crutch, a crutch which they need if they are to face a day with their pain (imagined or not). Having become addicted it is very difficult to overcome their addiction without being carefully weaned off the drug.

It is not however just those who’ve been prescribed a drug that are in danger – as mentioned earlier many people may not finish a course of painkillers, meaning drugs containing opiates can be just be lying around the house. The abuse of prescription drugs is rising issue – shockingly vicodin was the 2nd most used drug by 12th grade American high school students in 2010-2011. Opiate prescription drugs may be found at leftover at home, purchased illicitly or even gained by faking pain.

One very real, very frightening fact about prescription drugs is that they can act as a gateway to more dangerous, illegal drugs. Those who’ve become addicted to opiate based drugs may have had their course stopped by a suspicious doctor – where do they turn then? Dealers. The street drug equivalent of pain relief prescription drugs is heroin. Heroin has the image it deserves as an incredibly dangerous, incredibly addictive drug. If a user finds themselves turning to heroin then they are starting down a path that will, ultimately, ruin their lives.

The Solution

It is important to mention that prescription drugs are not inherently dangerous. As long as a user follows the prescriptions instructions exactly, and is wary of the potential for addiction, they will be fine. However people will inevitably become addicted to prescription drugs. The important thing to remember is that there is a lot of help out there, most noticeably from drug rehabilitation.

Drug rehabilitation centers are incredibly well equipped to deal with addiction to prescription drugs. They will combine medicinal practice with therapy to both ween you off the drug, and help you psychologically overcome the addiction. If you suspect someone you know, or even yourself, of an addiction to prescription drugs then don’t hesitate to act, the consequences if you don’t can be devastating.

Author Bio:

This post was written by Stanley Martinson. Stanley is a writer specializing in health issues, especially those related to drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Click here for more information.