Here's Why Opioids Are So Dangerous

Here's Why Opioids Are So Dangerous

You’re in pain, and you want the fastest and easiest road to relief. For a time, it was believed that opioids were the best solution, but the last 30+ years have proved quite the opposite. While opioids do offer pain relief, they can also lead down very dark roads that ruin lives.

If this sounds dramatic, the team here at Comprehensive Pain Management, led by Drs. Do Chan and Boris Shwartzman, presents the following, eye-opening information about the dangers of opioids.

How opioids can lead to addiction

The reason opioids are so effective at relieving pain is that they bind to opioid receptors that activate reward centers in your brain. More specifically, your brain releases endorphins that not only stifle the pain, but leave you feeling euphoric.

As a result, your brain craves more of this outside stimulant and your natural production of endorphins begins to wane over time, relying instead on the opioids. At the same time, people often start to build a tolerance toward the painkiller, leading them to take more just to achieve the same effect.

This slippery slope to an opioid use disorder can happen subtly and quickly: You take your medication more frequently than prescribed or you double up on doses from time to time, rationalizing these behaviors in the name of pain relief.

Unfortunately, this “rationalization” for misusing your pain medications stems from powerful urges and cravings in your brain that are hard to ignore, and they go far beyond pain relief. We want to point out that the brain can be a powerful persuader, and even the most strong-willed among us can find themselves helpless in the face of these cravings.

A look at the numbers

To underscore just how serious the risks are when you take opioids, we want to point to some alarming statistics.

In the 1990s, opioid-based painkillers were prescribed frequently, as manufacturers denied any risk of addiction. This denial came at a cost, as half a million people in the United States died of overdose due to opioids, prescription and illicit, between 1999 and 2019.

And the problem is only growing, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high during the 12-month period ending in April 2021 — more than 100,000 in that year alone, compared to a little more than 78,000 during the same time period a year earlier. While these statistics represent all drug overdose deaths, opioids account for most of these numbers.

Given these alarming figures, it’s fitting that opioid misuse and addiction are labeled an epidemic.

Doing our part

As pain management specialists, we understand that opioid-based painkillers can still play a role in relieving pain, but only when used judiciously. For this reason, we offer comprehensive medications management, and we work within the guidelines of the Department of Health when we prescribe opioids.

We also offer a wide range of pain management techniques that don’t rely on opioid-based medications, with the goal of relieving your pain in the short and long term.

If you have more questions about the dangers of taking opioids, we invite you to contact one of our offices in Attleboro or Franklin, Massachusetts, or South Kingstown or Warwick, Rhode Island.

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