1,000 people per day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that’s how many patients are treated in hospitals for not using painkillers or prescription opioids as directed.
Why is this? One reason could be that people tend to consider painkillers an inherently “safe” drug, because when used properly, they’re legal. But in actuality, prescription opioid abuse is rampant and often deadly. Even when used as prescribed, painkiller use can still negatively affect your body.
Side Effects of Painkiller Use
According to the Cleveland Clinic, here are some of the ways painkiller use can affect your physical health (even when used as a doctor recommends):
Compromised Immune System. Immediately upon taking painkillers, your body’s ability to fight off infection weakens. With no proven way to boost immune function, the best way to manage this side effect is to stop taking painkillers immediately.
The Stomach and Intestines. Painkillers are well-known for causing severe constipation. This can set in only a day or two after use begins and can cause abdominal distention and bloating, as well as more serious side effects such as hemorrhoids and bowel obstruction.
Increased Pain. As crazy as it may seem, painkillers can actually intensify pain in some people. People who experience this side effect are either transitioned to a different drug or weaned off painkillers altogether.
Hormone Levels. Use of painkillers often causes low levels of testosterone or estrogen (the male and female sex hormones), which may result in erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, fatigue, hot flashes, menstrual irregularities, weight gain and depression. And hormone imbalance can lead to more serious complications, such as infertility and osteoporosis.
There are some psychological side effects that come along with addiction as well. Here are a few:
Experiencing Paranoia. It’s not uncommon for people to report overwhelming feelings of paranoia while actively addicted to drugs. Simply buying and using illegal substances is enough to instill the feeling in users.
Feeling Anxious. People suffering from addiction rely on drugs to feel good (and to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms) and typically feel anxious as they wait for their next dose. This anxiety makes it incredibly difficult to stay focused and can cause problems in every aspect of life.
Suffering from Depression. Depression (among other mental health issues) is widely known to be risk factor of drug addiction. When combined with feelings of guilt or shame, it’s easy for a clinically-diagnosable case of depression to emerge.
Painkillers Are Highly Addictive
So why is painkiller abuse so common? Painkillers are a form of opioids. And opioids are highly addictive, meaning the risk of abuse is high. That’s why painkillers are typically only prescribed when other treatments and pain medications don’t work. Despite the fact that the dangers of painkillers are well known, the number of deaths from painkillers has quadrupled to nearly 15,000 per year in the U.S. in the past decade.
Don’t Become a Statistic
If you think you might have a problem with prescription painkillers, contact Cycles of Change Recovery Services today. Our addiction recovery center in California is designed to help you gain the knowledge, courage, and determination you need to maintain a drug-free lifestyle so you can live a healthier, happier life. From day one each step, each treatment program will be created around you and your individual needs to ensure you reach your goal of recovery. Facing your addiction alone can be overwhelming. We’re here to help. Fill out this form or call today at (661) 630-4176.