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Long Term Effects of Painkillers
The Consequences for Prolonged Use of Painkillers Can Be Devastating
Dealing with chronic pain can be debilitating. To treat patients suffering from prolonged agony, many physicians prescribe painkiller medication to cope, but the long-term effects of painkillers should not be overlooked.
Many of these medicines used to alleviate moderate to severe pain typically contain opioids. Opioids are incredibly effective at managing your pain. However, the long-term effects of painkillers like opioids include an extreme risk of addiction and numerous other side effects.
How Opioid Drugs Work
These kinds of painkillers don’t magically cure whatever is causing the pain in your body. Instead, the drugs depress your central nervous system to make it harder for your body’s pain signals to reach your brain. They then work by attaching to the brain receptors that are involved with feelings of pain and pleasure.
When the drug attaches to these specific receptors, they block the pain signals your brain receives and instead releases a “feel-good” substance called dopamine that makes you feel very relaxed and euphoric. So it feels as though the pain is gone, and you’re content and happy for the time being.
The dopamine release gets rid of your pain and replaces it with these pleasurable feelings many people can’t help but want to repeat with more frequent and often larger doses of drug use. This thinking can become a massive problem for some users of this type of medication.
Taking painkillers like hydrocodone in larger doses or longer than you should, can prevent your body from easing away pain more naturally. Remember, opioids are merely deceiving your brain into thinking they’re necessary to feel pleasure and relaxation.
The truth is your body can release its natural chemicals, including endorphins, to make you feel good without the use of synthetic pills. But when you’ve developed a dependency on opioid painkillers, your body “forgets” how to produce these natural feel-good chemicals on its own.
What Are The Long-Term Effects of Painkillers?
If you’ve been taking too many prescription painkillers or using them over an extended time, the long-term effects can damage your body, mind, and spirit.
Painkillers affect your central nervous system, which can cause you to stop taking them with painful withdrawal symptoms.
One of the first long-term effects of painkillers is a physical dependency known as addiction. Other consequences of relying on opioid painkillers include the ways they can affect specific parts of your body:
- The Liver: When you take painkillers, the drugs pass through your liver, where they’re broken down before going through your body. The toxins from opioids get stored in your liver, which can cause serious liver damage over time.
- The Cardiovascular System: Some people who become addicted to opioids begin crushing and snorting the pills or injecting them directly into their veins. These practices let them feel the drug’s impact immediately. The drug ends up going into the body through the bloodstream. This action can inflict damage to your heart, potentially causing cardiovascular disease or a heart attack.
- Gastrointestinal System: Your stomach, intestines, and bowel can be affected by dependence on painkillers. Constipation, stomach bloating, distention, hemorrhoids, and intestinal obstructions are just possible side effects.
- The Veins: Injecting painkiller substances into your body can lead to a collapsed vein over long-term use. If shared or unsterilized needles are used, the risks are even more significant for developing blood-borne infections and diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV.
Types of Powerful Prescription Painkillers
The kinds of prescription painkillers that can negatively affect you include strong medications like:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Methadone (Dolophine)
How These Medications Are Misused
Opioid drugs provided to you for pain relief can be safe when used as your doctor prescribes and for short periods. They can be abused, though. Abuse typically occurs when taken in doses that aren’t prescribed, when taking painkillers that haven’t been prescribed specifically for you, or when ingesting it to receive the euphoric effects it can have, also known as getting high.
Reclaim Your Health Now
If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction to prescription painkillers, reach out to us at JC’s Recovery Center immediately. Our supportive Christian rehab programs use clinically-based treatments to give you renewed hope for freedom from drugs.