Three Key Facts Americans Should Know About Prescription Painkillers

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Prescription painkillers are a major topic of discussion in America. After all, pain management is an essential part of the United States healthcare system. One-third of Americans suffer from chronic pain, and many of them use prescription painkillers to keep that pain at bay. But these pills are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and should be approached with extreme precaution.

With an opioid crisis underway, healthcare offices are cutting back on their prescriptions and increasing educational awareness. In the meantime, it’s important for people to do their own due diligence to learn more about how their lifestyle and health decisions can impact them. With that in mind, here are three key facts you should know about prescription painkillers:

Everyone Can Become Addicted

Understanding that anyone can fall victim to painkiller addiction is the first preventative measure people should take. Unfortunately, many Americans lean into optimism bias; the belief that undesirable outcomes won’t happen to them. This “it can’t happen to me” syndrome prevents people from taking the right precautions. Just because you might be taking prescription painkillers for the right reason doesn’t mean you’re less likely to be addicted.

On the same token, just because everyone has the potential to become addicted doesn’t mean that everyone will become addicted. The fact is, everyone has their own personal risk for addiction. Your personal risk of addiction depends on several factors, including your history with drugs and alcohol, your family’s history of addiction, and applicable psychiatric disorders like depression. These factors put you at a higher risk for addiction, and more clinics are screening for those risk factors thoroughly.

However, although not everyone will become addicted, chances are you’d experience withdrawal symptoms if you’ve been taking painkillers for an extended period of times. This is a completely natural reaction.

There Are Long-Term Consequences

Prescription medications can result in long-term health complications. For instance, when you take opioids for a long period of time, it can throw your hormones out of balance and affect your endocrine system. Your endocrine system is responsible for regulating various organs and vital functions and producing hormones.

Painkillers don’t just have the ability to affect your long-term health, but to affect your quality of life as well. Often, pain is the combination between physical and emotional pain, and these types of pain exist in the same part of the brain. Extended opioid usage not only masks physical pain, but masks the emotional pains and traumas, too. This makes it easier for people who suffer from anxiety and depression to depend on pills as a “way out.”

There are other ways to reduce pain without putting yourself in a compromising situation with opioids. For example, understanding the risks, County Line Chiropractic in Lauderhill created a treatment plan for car accident victims that hones in on physical therapy, massage therapy, electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), and other treatment types. These are safer, healthier alternatives. Meditation, yoga, exercise, and medicinal cannabis are all additional ways to curb pain safely.

Pain Medications Don’t Fix Pain-causing Issues

One of the biggest misconceptions of prescription painkillers is that they can help heal. This isn’t the case. Painkillers merely mask the symptoms of pain and allow you to feel better, creating the illusion that the pain is gone. In fact, over time, opioids can actually make you feel worse. Pain is your body’s way of signaling that something is wrong.

When you use opioids to block pain over an extended period of time, your body increases its receptors to try and send that signal again. This makes the body more sensitive to pain, and as your tolerance to opioids grows, the pills become less and less effective.

It should be noted that people experiencing pain should avoid prescription painkillers when possible, but there are, of course, times where it might be helpful in temporary and controlled situations. While there are plenty of harrowing statistics about painkillers, there are legitimate use cases, such as serious acute injuries (those that occur as a result of a single, traumatic event), severe chronic pain and hospice care.