Many people are buying painkillers daily and almost three quarters of them are misusing them, by taking the wrong doses. Crimes to obtain these have increased, which would include break ins at pharmacies or hospital cabinets by drug dealers and users, to theft by conversion or by false pretenses by some professional medical staff perpetrated against patients with the goal of getting as much of these painkillers as they can.
Among our youth prescription drugs are the most commonly abused next to marijuana on the belief that they are safe than illegal drugs. Unknown to most is the risk of taking these highly potent and mind altering drugs, as long time use leads to dependency even for people to whom they had been prescribed to relieve a medical condition but find themselves in the trap of abuse and addiction.
Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs that interfere with the nervous system’s transmission of the nerves signals we identify as pain. Most of these painkillers also stimulate portions of the brain associated with pleasure, as such in addition to blocking pain they produce a “high”.
The most powerful prescription painkillers are called opioids which are opium like compounds, these are manufactured to react to the nervous system in the same way as drugs derived from the opium poppy, like heroin.
The most commonly abused opioids painkillers are Oxycodone sold under the names such as OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan or Endodan and comes in tablet form it is as powerful as heroine.
Hydrocodone is used in combination with other chemicals and is available as tablets, capsules and syrups under these trade names Vicodin, Norco, Hycodon and its illicit use is on the increase.
Meperidine branded as Demerol and Hydromorphone (Dilaudid) come in tablets and Propoxyphene (Darvon) as capsules.
Opioids painkillers produce short-lived euphoria, but they are also addictive, long term use can lead to physical dependence. The body adapts to the presence of the substance and if one stops taking the drug abruptly, withdrawal symptoms occur. The body can build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning higher doses need to be taken in to achieve the same effects.
Like all drugs they simply musk the pain for which they are taken they don’t “cure” anything , as such someone continuously trying to dull the pain may find themselves taking higher and higher doses only to discover they cannot make it throughout the day without the drug .
Symptoms of withdrawal can include the following: restlessness, muscle and bone pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, insomnia, cold flashes with goose bumps and involuntary leg movements, and its serious risk is respiratory depression and high doses can lead to death.
In my exposure as a drug rehabilitation l have observed that addiction to these powerful painkillers is among the hardest cases to handle in drug withdrawal programs.
So next time you pop in that painkiller down that throat or help the incapable do consider the reasons behind taking it and also the side effects and do not overdo it .
If you feel you are in the circle of abusing prescription painkillers or know loved ones who are, you need help and we are here to help you out.
Mthandazo Ndlovu is a drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist.
Call or whatsapp +263772399734 or email email@example.com