The long term effects of painkillers can destroy you and your family.

Pain is a feeling experienced by many. Yet, each pain is unique. Pain can manifest as a result of physical trauma, an illness, or a side effect of a medication. Painkillers were chemically designed to relieve a person of pain and give the body a chance to rest. But that is not all that painkillers do.

Painkillers relieve a person of pain but at a cost of short and long term effects. How can a drug meant to do good cause harm? Unfortunately, in many ways.

When discussing painkillers the terms opioid and narcotics usually come up. Narcotics, which literally means “to make numb” is a classification of medications which relieve pain and induce a deep sleep. Opioids are a type of narcotics, typically derived from raw opium and work on the opioid receptors in the brain to relieve pain, relax the body and give a “high”.

Commonly prescribed painkillers are Tramadol, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Morphine and Dilaudid. Some come in pill form and others have to be administered intravenously. Let’s make it clear, even over the counter (OTC) drugs are pain medicine and will have short and long term effects. Common OTC pain relievers are ibuprofen, acetaminophen and motrin.

Short Term Effects of Painkillers

Prescription drugs, particularly painkillers, come with warning labels. Typically the label which stands out the most, says not to operate heavy machinery when “taking this medicine”. The warning is not there to decorate the pill bottle. Painkillers work on opioid receptors in the brain, block GABA neurotransmitters and allow dopamine to free flow throughout the brain. The release of dopamine without control creates the feeling of “high” and slows down a person’s ability to move and talk. The “high” feeling typically goes away in a few hours if the medication is not taken again.

Along with feeling high, many people who take painkillers experience, drowsiness, nausea, constipation and lack of concentration.

As a Registered Nurse I have seen people begin to refuse painkillers because the pain from constipation is worse.

Everyone’s body is unique and some individuals when taking painkillers in small doses actually become high strung, high energy and talkative.

Long Term Effects of Painkillers

The short term effects of painkillers may not seem so bad, but it leads to long term effects. The scariest and deadliest long term effect is dependence. Even OTC drugs carry the risk of dependence.

The long term effects of painkillers can vary depending on its administered form.

Intravenous Abuse

Painkillers which are crushed and injected into the bloodstream carry a high risk for cardiovascular disease, endocarditis, diabetes, phlebitis, heart attack, sepsis and death. More often than not, these drugs are injected in a nonsterile field. The mere act of injecting into the bloodstream creates track marks which often become infected leading to painful cellulitis. The risk of HIV and other diseases transmitted via bodily fluids increase each time medication is injected in a nonsterile field.

Typically, intravenous painkillers are taken due to tolerance from oral painkillers. The tolerance is not from pain anymore, but rather from experiencing withdrawals. Withdrawals from painkillers is a painful and intense process in which the body does not know what to do without the medicine. The person feels as if they have the flu, body aches, muscle spasms, mood swings, migraines, nausea and vomiting. Some people try to quit on their own and are unsuccessful. The best remedy would be to go to a rehabilitation center and get the medical attention needed to detox from painkillers properly.

Oral Abuse

Taking painkillers orally may not seem as bad as intravenous. The abuse of painkillers begins here. Overtime a person begins to increase the dose of the pill, eventually switching to a stronger oral painkillers and the cycle continues.

Along with dependence, oral painkillers are well known for constipation, reducing appetite and severe damage to the liver.

Alternatives to PainKillers

The long-term effects of painkillers are devastating, but no one wants to live in pain. Painkillers are not the only answer. A wholistic way of living exists which can provide pain relief and a fulfilling life. Also, do not drink alcohol during pain, as this may dehydrate your muscles and cause more strain on joints and bones.


A form of alternative medicine in which a licensed acupuncturist places needles in specific landmarks.


Spend some quiet time relaxing the brain and reaching a higher level in spirituality.


Exercise releases endorphins which make you happier and helps take pain away.

Heat/Cold Therapy

Muscles can get tense and need relaxation via hot or cold therapy.

Living in pain does not have to exist, find an alternative method for pain relief and avoid the short and long term effects of painkillers.


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