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Prescription opioid analgesics are depressants and killers

Harold Mandel's picture
Prescription opioid analgesics

There has been what appears to be an epidemic rise in the abuse of opioid analgesics. Drug abusers are using their physicians to get prescriptions for these drugs and they are getting them in large supplies on the black market. Opioid analgesics are dangerous drugs which have been shown in recent research to set off depressive episodes and which are associated with many premature deaths. Every segment of the society has been hit with this problem, including the nations highly vulnerable students.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes that the abuse of prescription drugs is growing at a dramatic rate across the United States. Opioid analgesics have lead the list of drugs responsible for drug overdose deaths. Over-prescribing of these drugs by physicians is a critical problem. However, among persons who died of opioid overdoses, a significant proportion got them off the streets. Reporting on the critical problem of abuse of these drugs among our youth, EmaxHealth reporter Robin Wulffson MD has written that teens are responsible for much prescription drug abuse.

Opioid analgesics are associated with increased risk for depression

The Journal of General Internal Medicine has reviewed research showing prescription opioid analgesics are associated with an increase in the risk of depression. In this study it was found as the length of opioid prescription increased the risk of depression increased significantly. This risk for a depressive effect from these drugs should be more carefully considered by physicians and patients alike.

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Although prescribed opioid analgesics are generally effective for the lowering of pain, reports of adverse effects and addiction have been on the rise. Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D. from Saint Louis University who was the primary investigator of the study, uncovered an association between chronic use of pain-relieving medication and a rise in the risk of developing major depression. In this study 50,000 veterans with no history of opioid use or depression, who were prescribed opioid pain killers, were followed. The veterans who were on the opioids for 180 days or longer were seen to have a significant increase in the risk for depression.

The longer opioids are used the greater the risk of depression

Scherrer has said that the findings of this study show the longer one is exposed to opioid analgesics, the greater their risk becomes of developing depression. Although these drugs remain popular to help cope with pain and suffering, reports of adverse effects have been rising dramatically. It appears if patients are put on a low daily dose, there may be a lower risk for depression. Patients who take opioids chronically are at an increased risk of developing depression which can affect their quality of life and their ability to cope with chronic pain. These drugs can also harm unborn children. Robin Wulffson MD has written on sad statistics regarding fetal harm from maternal drug use.

I have personally witnessed an unusual amount of abuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids over the years. In fact it often appears many patients go doctor shopping in order to come up with physicians who will prescribe these drugs for them. The drug culture which has evolved across the United States has also made these drugs readily available, for a high price, from illicit drug dealers.

The increase in rates of depression and deaths associated with opioids has been tragic and appears to increase even more dramatically when these drugs as mixed with alcohol and other drugs. Reporting on this problem EmaxHealth reporter Kathleen Blanchard, RN has written on how prescription drugs continue to claim lives.,highlighting the need for more aggressive measures aimed at educating physicians and patients alike to problems associated with over prescribing these drugs along with a crackdown on the illegal sale of these and other drugs.



It shows once again that drugs, prescribed or otherwise are not the answer. Disease is not caused by a lack of drugs! Pain is a signal that something is amiss and needs to be investigated, not hidden!