Drugs and alcohol Your Health & Wellness

Opioids can kill you

We all know the pleasures of a good painkiller.  We often don’t know the risks.  If we’re talking opioids, such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet (hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl in their generic form) those risks are huge. Opioids can kill you.

According to Consumer Reports, every year 17,000 Americans die from opioid overdoses.  And, another 500,000 Americans end up in the emergency room.

It’s relatively easy to become addicted to or heavily dependent on opioids. They ease short-term pain. And, doctors are prescribing them more and more.  For sure, it’s unsafe to mix them with alcohol, tranquilizers and other drugs, or to take the drugs for too long.

A recent report by Express Scripts reveals that almost six out of ten patients are mixing opioids with muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medications, a dangerous combination. The most frequent cause of accidental deaths from drug overdose stem from mixing an opioid with a benzodiazepine.

There are other drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to treat pain that have substantially fewer risks.  For your health, before you take an opioid, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the other drugs you’re taking, including sleeping pills. If possible, you should minimize the use of opioids.  And, of course, you should only take them as prescribed.

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3 Comments

  • Following back surgery, I’ve been prescribed tramadol for 10 years. I only take it when I am experiencing debilitating pain, but it bugs me that my physician can’t prescribe any more than a month at a time without an office visit. So, what should be a $10/month copay blossoms into a $15 copay for an office visit plus the $10 copay – my insurance company is paying the difference. I’m thinking somebody is making money off my pain.

  • I have had some bad experiences with all the nsaids, severe kidney damage, but many times they are the only things that will successfully reduce my arthritis pain to manageable levels. I do use tramadol occasionally, and have had no withdrawal problems with it. Acetaminophen works as long as it isn’t an inflamed joint complaining, but there is always the potential for liver damage with that. To top things off, my tramadol was recently added to the list of controlled substances, which means I have to go in and demonstrate that I am NOT abusing it to get my prescription renewed.

  • This is a crock. Until the FDA started trying to ban opioids I did not see a single article about overdoses or deaths, only that they were used as street drugs. Thanks to botched back surgery I’ve been taking Vicodin for ten years. When my back hurts I take it but when I don’t hurt I don’t take it and have absolutely no withdrawal problem. I have taken other non Schedule II drugs and had severe withdrawal problems and/or had to taper off very gradually. Nsaids cause kidney problems and too much acetaminophen can cream your liver.

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