How Does Someone with Legitimate Prescriptions for Painkillers Overdose and Die?
The higher the legitimate sales of prescription painkillers, the higher the deaths from the same pills, says the CDC. How’s that for cause and effect? And according to the CDC, that’s been happening since 1999. Every year. More prescriptions filled = more deaths. That should make anyone think twice when they’re offered opioid painkillers by their doctor. Of course, not all people who overdose and die from these pills have legitimate prescriptions – far from it. But even those who do – and even those who think they’re taking the pills the way the doctor ordered – are at risk and can overdose and die. Here’s how.
How Legitimate Painkiller Prescriptions Lead to Overdose and Death
More than 80 percent of prescription drug deaths involve painkillers. How can that happen when you get the pills from the doctor?
- Some people who get legal prescriptions start abusing the drug – but they don’t think of it as abuse. They start taking a higher dose, or taking them more frequently, because they feel it’s not affecting them anymore, or it’s not giving them the relief they need. The problem is that their body isn’t necessarily able to handle more.
- Also, people build up a tolerance to the drug (one of the reasons why the drug may no longer be giving them the relief they need) and go onto a higher dose with their doctor’s okay. But when they go off the painkillers for a while and then start back on them, they’ll sometimes continue on the higher dose. Maybe they don’t even ask their doctor about it because they’ve still got pills left over in their medicine cabinet. But their body is no longer used to that higher dose, it hasn’t built up to being able to tolerate that amount of the drug, and it caused an overdose.
- Patients who sometimes accidentally take more pills by than were prescribed, or take them more frequently, sometimes don’t even know they’re doing it. This is not uncommon – drugs can impair memory and perception. If someone taking pills from the doctor is not keeping accurate track of exactly what pills they take on which date and at what time, they could easily lose track.
- And then there’s mixing pills. Some combinations of drugs are fine, others can be deadly. Often people who are using more than one prescription drug don’t know how one drug interacts with the others. And they don’t understand why it works that way. So, they take the drugs at the same time. They even do this when their doctor or pharmacist has specifically said not to. Again, being drugged affects memory and perception.
- When someone tries to stop taking the pills, they feel pain. So they simply think it’s too early to stop take them and they continue. However, experiencing pain when you stop taking the painkillers can be caused by two things other than the initial pain still being there. First, their body is already dependent on the drug and is going through the pain of withdrawal. Second, after a while, painkillers can actually cause pain. The only remedy for that type of pain is to stop taking the pills.
- Sometimes people taking prescription painkillers get addicted. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter whether they are still in pain or not – they have become addicted to the feel-good aspects of the drugs. So they keep taking them, then they take more, then they can overdose.
If you or someone you care about is on prescription painkillers and you want to keep them safe, keep an eye on all the points above. They may not really be in a condition to control things – even if it seems they are, or they insist they are.
If it looks like there might be an addiction problem, contact us at 855-895-2090 to discuss it. If there is a problem, we’ll help you find the best drug rehab program for your situation.