August 17

Are Painkillers Killing Us?


This is not a story of rock stars and starlets, although they are suffering from this epidemic in staggering numbers. This story is about everyday people who seek relief from pain in the doctor’s office, whether it is from a sports injury or injury on the job, or chronic pain like migraines or arthritis. 9.4 million Americans take opioids for long-term pain.

Opioids are pain relievers with similar chemical structures to heroin. The most common opiods are Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Meperidine (Demerol), Methadone (Dolophine), Morphine (Roxanol, and Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet).
Because opiates are chemically similar to heroin, they produce the same effects: euphoria and high levels of addiction. When the injury is healed and the opiate prescription is stopped, the patient is left with an addiction that is difficult to kick. So difficult that it is preferable to get drugs on the street to feed the habit. And it is so easy to get pills on the black market. As the addiction grows worse, many people go to the more potent method of dissolving and injecting the pills, or go straight to heroin. 4 out of 5 heroin addicts say they came to the drug from prescription drug use. The use and sharing of needles creates a legion of problems: HIV infection is up, as is Hepatitis C linked to prescription painkiller injections. The National Institute of Health estimated that 2.1 Americans are hooked.

And this is having a deadly effect. An average of 46 Americans die every day from prescription-opioid overdose. Opiate overdose beats out car accidents for one of the leading causes of death for middle aged Americans in the country.

So please, if you or a loved one goes to the doctor and receives a prescription of oxycodone or another opiate, please be on guard. If taken in a low does for a short amount of time, it can be managed. However, if the patient begins taking extra doses and runs out of the medication before time, be concerned and take immediate action to stop or ramp down the medication. Talk to your doctor.

Also be aware of the young people in your home. The first place a teenager looks for drugs is in his parent’s medicine cabinet.



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