2 Your Health: Your Pain Medication Might Be Killing You

Dr. Craig Brue

Many patients feel safe because their family medical doctor has prescribed a strong narcotic medication for acute or chronic back pain.  Just because your doctor prescribes a pain medication does not mean that it is either safe or effective. Medications always have harmful side effects. In fact, there are always more side effects with a drug than any potential benefit you might hope to experience.

Recent newspaper and magazine articles have been highlighting the dangers of the opioid family of drugs: oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Opioids are substances that act on brain receptors to produce morphine-like effects, and these medications are derived from opium.

The side effects of opioids include itchiness, sedation, nausea, difficulty breathing, constipation, and euphoria. It is often the euphoria of the narcotic medication that attracts recreational use which then escalates into addiction.

According to a recent Consumer Reports article, “America’s Scary Pill Habits,” these are the most important facts that you need to know about the pain medications that are commonly prescribed for pain.

Misconception #1: Opioids work well for chronic pain.

This is not true because there is no evidence that these drugs are safe for long-term use. While Tylenol and ibuprofen are not addictive, prolonged use of these drugs may result in liver disease or kidney failure.

Misconception #2: Opioids are not addictive when used to treat pain. Many opioid users have an addictive response after only a few doses of this drug. The simple fact is that over 17,000 people die every year because of opioid addiction.

Misconception #3: Extended-release versions of opioid use are safer.

There is no study that proves that these drugs are safer or more effective. Fatal side effects have resulted when one takes oxycodone with alcohol or other drugs that cause dizziness or a decreased breath rate.

Misconception #4: Taking this drug for a short time will not cause harm.

It’s a fact that approximately 30% of all patients who start opioids become addicted to these medications. Addiction is not only a serious problem, it is life-threatening. Because of the opioid drug reputation for addiction and fatal overdose, these medications are controlled substances by the FDA.

This is my recommendation for the treatment of chronic pain. Before you turn to life-threatening drugs for pain, please consider a safer approach for pain management: chiropractic care, gentle exercises, stretching, walking, swimming, and a diet (including vitamins) that eliminates inflammation.

Conservative chiropractic management is a safe and effective way for you to deal with chronic back and neck pain. Instead of taking drugs that only mask the pain, put a great chiropractor on your team to help you understand and successfully treat the pain you are experiencing.

Dr. Craig Brue is an author, lecturer, and chiropractic provider in SaddleBrooke. For further information on chiropractic care, please go to Dr. Brue’s website, bruechiropractic.com.