Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers: Overdose and Alternative Treatments

In 2014, the United States reached startling highs in deaths from overdoses – 47,055 deaths, which was an increase of 6.5% from 2013. About 60% of this number included overdoses from opioids. Opioids include certain prescription pain relievers and heroin, and more than half of the overdoses were from prescription painkillers. This figure quadrupled from 1999 and is becoming epidemic among all sexes, races, and ages.

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. The goal is to raise awareness about drug overdoses and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths.

What Is an Overdose?

A person may get an overdose when consuming too many drugs for the body to handle or mixing different kinds of drugs. This includes all types of drugs, including medication prescribed by a doctor or over the counter medicines.

When to Call an Ambulance

An overdose is often unexpected, especially since most are accidental. Should you experience any of these symptoms or notice these signs in another person, call 911:

Overdose Repercussions

When a person experiences an overdose, oxygen is cut off from the brain, either partially or completely. The longer the brain is without oxygen, the greater the risk of brain damage. Here is a list of the effects an overdose can have on people:

Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers

An overdose from prescription opioid pain relievers is often accidental, but can also be intentional. Intentional cases are usually when a person wants to get intoxicated or harm oneself. Accidental overdoses can happen when a person mistakenly takes the wrong medication or incorrect dosage, or when drugs are left within the grasp of a young child. Children under the age of five tend to place everything they see in their mouths, so it’s imperative to keep drugs away from them.

About 2.1 million people are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. In a survey, almost 50% of teens believed that prescription drugs are safer than illegal street drugs, while 60-70% said they get their drugs from their home medicine cabinets.

Most deaths from prescription opioid pain relievers are preventable, and addiction is unnecessary.

Alternative Treatments for Pain

Since prescription opioid pain relievers are so dangerous and addictive, it’s wise to look at alternative ways to treat chronic pain. Here is a list of different treatment options to reduce chronic pain:

If you suffer from chronic pain, addiction problems with prescription medication or any other drug, and are looking for alternative methods to treat your pain, reach out to Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. I can help you manage chronic pain, address the root problems of your pain, and help you overcome an addiction.

Author
Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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