Painkiller abuse is a growing problem in the U.S. With many states adopting tougher laws on prescription drug abuse trying to solve the epidemic that affects nearly a million people in America will be challenging. Painkiller abuse does not only impact the individual using drugs but impacts the lives of those around them and understanding the side effects of painkiller abuse may be an important step in getting help.
Painkillers are narcotics and belong to a family of drugs known as opiates. Opiates affect the brain and central nervous system by blocking the receptors known as "opioid" receptors that are responsible for allowing the body to experience pain or pleasure. When an individual is injured, recovering from surgery or has intense pain, the physician treating them may prescribe a painkiller such as Percocet, Vicodin, or Oxycontin to control the pain.
The problem lies in the fact that a large number of individuals that take painkillers do not take the drug as indicated by the physician or they do not stop taking it once the reason is no longer valid. Another problem is that when a person takes prescription painkillers, they develop a tolerance to the drug. As a result, they will increase the amount of the drug that they take to achieve the same level of euphoria as with previous dose.
There are physical and psychological side effects from prescription painkiller abuse. The most common side effect is constipation. Excessive use of painkillers will result in a hardened stool and can lead to painful constipation.
Many painkiller users also experience:
Some individuals that have painkiller abuse suffer from malnutrition due to the loss of appetite which is also a side effect. Nausea and vomiting are also dangerous side effects as it could lead to the individual aspirating vomit and suffocating. Weight loss from painkiller abuse can lead to heart attack.
Painkiller abuse may be evident in the manner in which the individual is taking the drugs. For example if they are injecting or snorting the drug, this is a manner that is not per the normal methods of prescription. Certain types of painkillers have a protective coating that makes the active ingredient time released. When an individual alters the physical manner of the painkiller, they also after the time release effectiveness and are able to get the full effects of the drug at the same time. Many hospital emergency rooms report that a large number of overdose patients are from abusing painkillers.
Long term side effects from painkiller abuse can lead to liver disease or kidney disease â€“ which can lead to organ failure, heart disease and respiratory failure. Individuals that have excessive or chronic painkiller use should consult with their doctor or seek help in quitting their painkiller abuse.