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Painkiller Addiction on the Rise

Painkiller Addiction on the Rise - Law Buddy

Beware Painkillers on the Rise!

Be aware! Be vigilant!

The danger of painkiller addiction is not only a threat to Australia but all over the globe.

Opioids are medications that can relieve pain. Any drug that contains opium or its derivative (synthetic opium) has morphine-like effects. Although most painkillers are safe, they should only be taken when prescribed to you by a doctor.

Painkillers become extremely dangerous when taken without doctor’s advice and when taken for non-medical or recreational purposes they often lead to addiction, misuse, and a potential overdose.

Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs that affect the nervous system by interfering with the transmission of nerve signals we perceived as pain. They can block the pain at the site of an injury, at the spinal cord or in the brain, and can also lead to drug dependency and addiction.

Painkillers can come in many different forms, such as creams or ointments, however, most painkillers are taken orally through pills or tablets, some users even crush them up and snort them for a stronger effect.

The most commonly abused painkillers are Codeine, Fentanyl, Morphine, Opium, Hydrocodone, Demerol, Zydone and Oxycodone which have brand names like Vicodin, Percodan, OxyContin, Percocet, and Hycodan. Popular street names for some painkillers include hillbilly heroin, pinks, vike or vic, footballs, juice, dillies or dust,   Oxy 80s, and percs or perks.

How dangerous are these painkillers?

Many people take pain killers as part of a pain management program prescribed by their Doctor. But continuous and prolonged use of these drugs can lead to a substance dependency. A person will not only suffer withdrawal symptoms if the taking of these drugs is stopped, but misuse of the drug can also lead to several complications, including liver failure, severe respiratory problems, and even death.

Painkillers can be just as dangerous as heroin and other illegal drugs. Some of the unwanted effects can include, increased pain sensitivity, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, chronic dry mouth, and skin irritation. Moreover, painkillers become increasingly dangerous if mixed with other drugs, including alcohol.

The silent epidemic in US and UK

Prescription drug abuse has become a silent epidemic that plagues many first world countries. In the United States, death rates for drug overdose have tripled since 1990, with more than 36,000 recorded deaths from drug overdoses according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. With most of these deaths being as a result of prescription drugs.

In 2008, there were 14,800 deaths as a result of prescription painkiller overdose. In 2009, 475,000 hospital visits were as a result of prescription painkiller abuse.

The painkiller hydrocodone is the most commonly diverted and abused controlled drug in the U.S.

Methadone once used to treat addiction and is now used as a painkiller, caused 785 deaths in Florida in the year 2007.

Meanwhile, in the UK, tens of thousands of people are now dependent on painkillers such as Solpadeine and Neurofen Plus.

The silent epidemic in Australia

Some health groups refer to this growing problem as a silent epidemic. In Australia, 3% of the population over 14 years old had used painkillers for non-medical purposes between 2009 and 2010.

Alarmingly, more numbers were reported killed by drug overdose than deaths involving car accidents. In 2011 alone, there were 241 drug overdose deaths in Australia for persons aged 25 to 34 years old, compared with only 110 deaths due to road accidents in the same age bracket.

Concerned health groups say prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and fentanyl are among the most commonly abused painkiller drugs, which are sometimes used in combination with other drugs. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre reports that demand has increased more than five fold in Australia between 1996 to 2011. This increase in demand has been linked to increased overdose deaths among middle aged Australians.

Professor Jon Currie, Addiction Medicine specialist and Director of Addiction Medicine and Translational Neurobiology at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne said, that an Anex (an independent and non-profit organization that represents the voice of the public health sector of Australia) analysis was a ”major wake-up call.” and that, ”We have become very complacent about our drug overdoses – and drug addiction in general.” John Rogerson, the Australian Drug Foundations CEO, believes the use of synthetic opiates such as oxycodone in Australia is among the highest in the world.

Are you aware of the effects?

The silent killer strikes unexpectedly! What makes painkiller addiction dangerous is that they are safe and legal as a treatment for back injuries, arthritis and other conditions associated with pain. Doctors prescribe them to patients in order to treat sometimes crippling pain. But what can start as legitimate pain treatment can develop into a life destroying addiction.