There are drugs that decrease your discomfort, and there are drugs that remove your pain. Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs. They serve to interfere with the brain’s transmission of the nerve signals that respond to pain.
Additionally, painkillers produce a sense of joy and euphoria for the user as it blocks the pain. For this reason, these substances are often abused. Recreational users seek out painkillers for their feel-good effects. And compared to illicit drugs, these are more accessible, as they may be prescribed by your doctor. This makes it much easier for people to enjoy the “high” without turning to the black market.
Commonly abused painkillers include oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and propoxyphene.
In the US, the use of street drugs is on a slight decline. But prescription drug abuse is still a problem—and a growing one, for that matter. Back in 2007, around 2.5 million Americans were shown to have abused prescription drugs.
Teenagers in particular were prone to abusing the drug. In fact, it was considered one of the most commonly used drugs, second only to marijuana. Among the prescription drugs, painkillers were some of the most commonly abused. The reason for this is accessibility, as teenagers believe it is less risky to abuse this type of drug compared to other substances.
And while it may be less risky in terms of trying to acquire the drug, they are definitely as dangerous when it comes to adverse effects.
The health effects of painkiller abuse don’t surface until it’s too late. And before we discuss these negative side effects, we should note that painkiller abuse, dependence, and addiction can all indeed be fatal.
Whether they are injected, swallowed, or snorted, painkillers can and will produce effects, both on the short term and the long term. Generally, the person taking painkillers will experience a high—their body will feel relaxed and they will feel a sense of euphoria from within. This is why people abuse these drugs in the first place.
But an obvious side effect is that it decreases your ability to respond and react to your environment. Driving under the influence of these drugs is dangerous and can lead to accidents.
When continuously abused, users may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Muscle spasms are also very common. Painkiller abuse may cause long term heart damage, increasing the likelihood of a heart attack. Other cardiovascular issues may also surface.
Injecting the drug on a recreational environment presents another risk in the form of blood-borne diseases. This happens when abusers make use of the same needle.
On top of these adverse effects, painkillers may cause dependence, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms—the latter occurs when a user abruptly ends their painkiller intake.
Once the body has grown used to the drug’s presence, it starts functioning differently. When a person quits, the body detects the drug’s sudden absence and reacts violently to it. Withdrawal symptoms manifest with flu-like symptoms. It may involve headaches, random spasms, and a sore body.
This means the user has to keep on taking the drug despite all the health effects.
A person who is addicted to painkillers can still recover. With a reliable rehabilitation facility, there is still hope. Some treatment methods involve medications, some use behavioral therapy, but most of it will make use of detoxification.
Detox involves gradually lowering a person’s drug intake while addressing the various withdrawal symptoms that may come during the process.
But with a supportive environment, the drug addicted individual will surely be able to recover and get back to living a sober life.