While useful and necessary when taken as prescribed, prescription painkillers can be dangerous and even deadly when misused. The term painkiller refers to many drugs, including over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin. Prescription painkillers include Morphine, OxyContin, Hydrocodone, and more. All drugs carry a risk, but prescription painkillers are particularly strong and addictive.
Narcotic painkillers are one of the strongest and best options for relief from severe pain and are often prescribed after surgeries. There is a false sense of safety surrounding prescription drugs because they are legal and come from a doctor. But used incorrectly, painkillers can become addictive, dangerous, and even deadly.
Most of the most commonly abused painkillers are opiates and have similar effects. Painkiller abuse results in a euphoric high followed by a period of numbness or sedation with delayed reactions and impaired judgment. Painkillers, when abused, can be swallowed, or snorted or injected when crushed up. Taking pain pills by snorting or injection when they are prescribed orally qualifies as drug abuse.
Opiates work by affecting the chemical GABA and the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine creates feelings of pleasure, and GABA controls the release of dopamine. Opioids prevent the release of GABA, which in turn allows dopamine to flood the brain, creating the euphoric sensation or high that users crave. This can have a wide range of side effects.
Opiates cause the whole body and brain to relax. Pupils may dilate, and the body can go limp or have jerky reactions. Opioids slow reaction time, cause fatigue and impair judgment, so operating a vehicle while under the influence of opiates is especially dangerous. You can be arrested for driving on painkillers and even get jail time up to a year. Your driving privileges will also be restricted.
There are many negative side effects of painkiller abuse, including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Painkillers can also make a person twitch randomly.
The method of use affects the long-term effects of painkillers. Injection use (from crushing pills and dissolving them in liquid) can cause heart damage and can increase the risk of heart attacks. Any injections create track marks that can get infected, especially when using shared or dirty needles. Injectable drugs increase the risk of contracting chronic blood diseases, like HIV and hepatitis.
All opiates, regardless of how they are taken, have a risk of long-term addiction. When the body becomes addicted, addicts are no longer using to achieve a high, but rather to avoid feeling sick when they do not have pills. Withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, shakiness, hot and cold flashes, sweating, body ache, and intense cravings for painkillers. If you are having withdrawal symptoms, you have already become addicted to painkillers and most likely need to seek treatment. At the very least you need to talk to your doctor about weaning off painkillers safely, as withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and dangerous.
Know more about the dangers of prescription drugs from the video below: