Dangers of Prescription Pain Medication

Category: Blog

Published: August 21, 2018 by Eric Klinger

Know the Dangers of Prescription Pain Medication

 In May 2018, the State of Ohio passed a new set of rules designed to curb the proliferation of opioids in communities throughout the state. The rules will require physicians to monitor their patients’ opioid use and continuously evaluate them for signs of opioid abuse when their prescription dosages are increased. In addition, physicians will need to obtain a pain-management agreement for patients who are prescribed 80 morphine-equivalent doses per day, and they will be instructed to look into prescribing naloxone, which reverses and blocks the effects of an opioid overdose.

These new rules come at a pivotal moment in our area, as we are finally beginning to see a decrease in both the number of opioids prescribed in the state and the number of deaths attributed to overdose of prescription pain medication. Even so, opioid deaths continue to rise in Ohio, and opioid addiction is too often the result of overexposure to prescription medications.

How Effective Are Prescription Pain Killers?

 Here’s something the big pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know. Prescription pain medications are not only every bit as addictive as heroin, but they’re also not very effective when it comes to managing chronic pain. According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health, there is a “lack of convincing data for long term efficacy” of opioids, and while “opiate analgesics are usually effective at the onset of treatment,” many believe the “long-term treatment of chronic pain patients with opiates has contributed to the recent increase in opiate abuse and addiction.”

Opioids are often prescribed to relieve short term pain that accompanies everything from sprained ankles to wisdom teeth. In part, this is because they can be helpful in alleviating the discomfort associated with these common procedures. But before you or your children start taking these medications, it’s important to understand the risks that exist.

Risks of Opioid-Based Prescription Pain Medications

 Most medications come with some type of warning, and you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any prescription medication. With opioid-based pain medications, though, one should exercise even greater care. Here are some things to note before you start taking opioid-based pain medications.

1. Never keep old medications. The pain from a pulled wisdom tooth can last a week or so. A prescription for 30 pills, then, is more than you would reasonably need to take. As a result, you might end up taking them longer than you need to, which increases the risk of addiction. Additionally, if you take these pills after not having taken any for a long time, you could actually overdose as your tolerance has declined.

2. The potential for abuse is very high. Holding onto old prescriptions increases the chance they’ll fall into the wrong hands. For someone seeking a high, other people’s medicine cabinets can be a popular hunting ground. Check with your pharmacist about ways to get rid of old medications once you no longer need them.

3. Opioids and alcohol don’t mix. Both substances are depressants, impairing your actions and causing your breathing to slow. Taking prescription pain medications in combination with alcohol can be lethal.

At Unison Health, we recognize the potential hazards of opioid-based prescription pain medications, and we encourage people to talk to their doctors about non-opioid alternatives for short-term or chronic pain. Taken as directed, acetaminophen and other medications can be effective against pain without the potential for abuse 

If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, including opioid abuse, please contact Unison Health at 419-214-HOPE.