Nuffield Health recently conducted a study suggesting that one in five people in the UK are taking painkillers on a regular basis, just so they can face going to work. Those taking the pills may notice that they feel better after taking the medication than they did before, making this association can result in the formation of a habit.
Many people from this survey were taking prescription drugs such as tramadol and morphine, but a sizeable amount of them were taking over-the-counter (or OTC) drugs. Most of these drugs are codeine-based compounds such as co-codamol and Nurofen plus.
The codeine in these drugs boost the analgesic effect of the paracetamol or ibuprofen component, providing a touch of euphoria associated with opiates. The concern is that taking these drugs can easily become a habit – they are legal and readily available after all. You might start taking them for back pain, but before you know it you are taking them every day because you like the way they make you feel, increasing the dosage as your body gets used to the effects.
This type of drug addiction is under-reported and is affecting middle class individuals with no previous history of drug abuse. Painkillers like co-codamol have a psychological and a physical effect, according to DR. Des Spence (a GP in Glasgow).
On top of the obvious addiction concern, over-using OTC painkillers can also be dangerous for your physical health. Ibuprofen can cause serious stomach problems, while Nurofen Plus addicts can suffer from pancreatitis – a painful condition that sometimes results in death. Paracetamol can also be fatal if abused, causing liver damage – what is particularly worrying about liver damage is that by the time you start to feel unwell, it may be too late to save your liver or even your life.
If you find that you are taking this type of medication because it makes you feel better and more able to cope with everyday life, it is worth speaking to a doctor.
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