When painkillers are overused or taken in excess, they can affect almost every part of the body negatively, especially if overuse occurs often.
The worst-case scenario is accidental overdose.
In 2015, more than 15,000 people in the United States died from a prescription opioid overdose according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Moreover, some 1,000 people are treated daily in emergency departments after misusing prescription opioids.
If you or someone you love is living with a painkiller addiction, we are here to help. Sobriety and long-term recovery are possible at The Raleigh House.
Continue reading to learn more about the side effects of painkiller use on the body.
The Effects of Painkiller Overuse
We’ve heard it said that painkillers have a “thin margin of error,” and it’s true. However, people tend to think of these drugs as inherently safe because, when used properly, they are legal.
The thing is, people who overuse painkillers tend to use them in ways that were not intended. When that happens, the drugs can become lethal almost instantly.
Some people will grind pills, mix them with alcohol or water, and inject them. Because the body is not designed to handle powder in the bloodstream, this can lead to long-term heart infections and pulmonary embolisms.
The other thing to avoid is mixing painkillers with alcohol. That’s because they both slow breathing by different mechanisms. The result is that breathing can stop altogether.
The short-term effects of painkiller abuse can include nausea, slowed breathing, and even unconsciousness, but long-term side effects are much worse.
The Long-Term Side Effects of Painkillers
Aside from overdose, there are many ways that the long-term effects of painkiller use can damage your body.
- Lungs. Opiate painkillers suppress the body’s ability to breathe. This leads to an increased risk of pneumonia. In addition, smoking painkillers can lead to a buildup of fluids in the lungs.
- Liver. The most significant liver damage from prescription pills comes from the acetaminophen in the drug. In 2011, the FDA limited the amount of acetaminophen in a capsule to 325 mg. While that did help, taking enough pills will still put your liver at risk.
- Stomach and intestines. Prescription painkillers are well known for causing constipation, but many people suffer from narcotic bowel syndrome, slowing down the bowels. The result is constipation, nausea, bloating, vomiting, and abdominal distention.
- Heart and circulatory system. A 2016 study found that people who take prescription painkillers (even if they don’t overuse them) are at a greater risk for cardiovascular death. In addition, smoking or injecting painkillers brings additional risks, such as infection of the heart lining and valves.
- Infectious disease. Those who inject prescription painkillers are at an increased risk of contracting HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
It is essential to know that those ready to reach long-term recovery and launch a new life will face physical withdrawal symptoms like fever, sweating, body aches, nausea, and insomnia. While unpleasant, these symptoms fade after a week or so, leaving you free to pursue life without painkillers’ risk of overdose, liver failure, or disease.
Effective and Personalized Healing at The Raleigh House
You don’t have to take painkillers forever.
Painkiller addiction can be treated, allowing you to pursue the adventures and challenges of life again.
At The Raleigh House, located in Denver, we embrace a whole-person approach to healing that addresses physical, mental, and emotional health. Interested in learning more? Please fill out our form or call today to learn more about our painkiller treatment program.
View Photos Of Our Ranch