The Dangers of Long Term Pain Medication Use

The Dangers of Long Term Pain Medication Use
March 6, 2014

Pain medication has a large role to play in treating significant back pain. Steps should be taken to reduce the amount of time you need pain medication as extended use is most times not recommended. Not only can some pain killers damage the organs of our bodies, some prescription forms tend to be addictive and can lead to years of habit forming abuse.

Over the Counter Pain Medicine

OTC, or over the counter, pain medicine is available in the well-known forms of acetaminophen, ibuprofen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Risks associated with long term NSAID and ibuprofen use can include gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding. The long term side effects or over use of the recommended dosages of acetaminophen can cause liver damage.  This risk further increases when other medications are taken in combination without first consulting a physician for compatibility and when it is taken with alcohol or other irritants of the liver.

Prescribed Medication – RX Drugs

The effect from long term prescription drug use on the human body varies depending on the type of medication.  With pain medication in particular, the mild effects include dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, and constipation.  Side effects that warrant medical attention may include respiratory depression, urinary retention, lowered or increase blood pressure, lowered or increased heart rate, vomiting, listlessness and any other symptom that causes alarm.  Speak with your physician or pharmacist for a complete list of side effects associated with the medication you were prescribed. Long term use of prescription medicine could also lead to a tolerance and increasing intake over time that you do not realize is hurting your internal system.  Always review your medication and its dosages with your doctor.

Prescription Medication Dependency

The greatest concern when taking opioids and other narcotic medication to control pain is the possibility of developing a dependency, or an addiction, to it.  Taking pain medications as prescribed, for the prescribed time line, and for the right reason is paramount to remember. When suffering from addiction to pain medication, people often mistreat their mind and body to great extents before seeking treatment for addiction. At the point of addiction, coming off the medication can be extremely difficult for the patient as they battle symptoms of physical withdrawal and hesitation. Seeking adequate medical and psychological help can significantly reduce these symptoms and the desire to fall back to the addictive cycle.

If you are prescribed painkillers to deal with your chronic pain for an extended period of time it does not hurt to seek a second opinion.  There may be other solutions for your pain that you have not been previously aware of.