Analgesics or “painkillers”, are drugs which are designed to alleviate individuals of pain. In order to relieve pain, these drugs interact with our nervous system to stimulate areas of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure. These pain blocking drugs are so strong they cause users to experience a “high”. Opioid painkillers are the most powerful, making them the most commonly abused. Oxycodone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone are most commonly used amongst other widely used opioid painkillers. Prescription medications are commonly abused because users sometimes believe they are “safer” than illicit drugs. But if taken the wrong way, many times prescription medication abuse can lead to an overdose.
Although the “high” from opioid painkillers is short-lived, painkillers are still highly addictive. Opioid painkillers produce effects very similar to heroin. Most users continuously take painkillers in order to dull pain, but in reality painkillers don’t produce a “cure”. A physical dependence upon painkillers usually occurs with consistent use. Users tend to build a tolerance over time, causing them to take higher and higher doses of painkillers, ultimately leading to a users body becoming dependent upon the drug.
Short term effects of painkiller abuse include drowsiness, slow breathing, unconsciousness and even sometimes comas. Some of the long term effects of prescription painkiller abuse include physical dependency, as well as an emotional dependence. Adverse effects such as liver or kidney failure, impaired mental functioning, altered behavioral functions, and death by overdose or toxicity are common amongst painkiller abusers and addicts. Withdrawal symptoms appear shortly after use of painkillers are reduced or completely stopped, usually these symptoms will last over a period of a few days to a few weeks, depending on the user. Withdrawal symptoms experienced by painkiller abusers and addicts include:
- Low energy and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Disturbed Sleeping Patterns
- Mood Changes
- Aches and Pain
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