Unfortunately, even if you take opioids exactly the way you were prescribed to do so by a doctor, these drugs can cause serious health risks in many individuals. In fact, the longer you take prescription painkillers, the higher your risk becomes of experiencing severe issues. In Addictions.com’s new study, you can see a number of problems associated with these medications, as well as a few ways to avoid any serious side effects of taking them.
Taking prescription painkillers for more than 7 days increases one’s chances of addiction. This is so very serious because many people don’t believe they will become addicted to these drugs unless they take them for a long period of time. Others believe addiction cannot occur if they were prescribed the drug by a doctor. Sadly, these misconceptions have helped lead to the severe opioid epidemic that continues to sweep our nation. In 2015 alone, over 15,000 people died of overdoses associated with prescription opioids like hydrocodone, fentanyl, and oxycodone.
In addition, if a person takes one of these drugs for more than 30 days, they are likely to become dependent on it. Though this is not the same as addiction, if dependence isn’t handled correctly, it can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and other uncomfortable and even potentially dangerous problems.
However, when opioids are taken for several months or longer, many risks that are mostly unknown to the public begin to take effect. For example, people who take prescription painkillers for more than 180 days become 53 percent more likely to experience depression at some point in their lifetimes. Also, the long-term use of these drugs can cause disruption in the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can cause serious side effects for those who can no longer produce the hormones and chemicals necessary to regulate their brains and bodies. Finally, opioid use over a long time can also cause impaired cognition, a serious side effect of which many people are completely unaware.
These drugs can in fact cause a number of health problems for those who use them, even those who are taking them exactly as their doctors have told them to do. In fact, we are only beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to understanding how serious these side effects actually are.
The best thing you can do as an individual is to always be on the lookout for substance abuse in yourself and your loved ones and to take your medications safely. Remember never to use more of the drug than you were told by your doctor. You can also ask your personal physician if there is another alternative to painkillers that could help you with your pain management such as yoga, meditation, massage therapy, etc. You should never take medications that were prescribed to someone else or that were purchased illegally. In most cases, you should try not use opioids for longer than 7 days, as this is the safest amount of time possible to avoid any of the health risks listed above.