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The safety of painkillers

December 20, 2010

About the Author

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Peter Wehrwein, Contributor, Harvard Health

Peter Wehrwein was the editor of the Harvard Health Letter from 1999 to May 2012. He is currently a freelance writer and editor, and contributes to the Harvard Health blog and Before editing the Health Letter, … See Full Bio
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October 11, 2011

Drugs abuse is always a bad thing !!!

Jevaughn Brown
October 7, 2011

It’s kind of backwards to me that the medical pain relief treatment in our advanced times consists of waffling between different classes of artificial chemicals which all harm, seriously injure, addict, or even kill users if there’s even a small mistake in their usage, never mind outright abuse. Or even if they’re used as prescribed.

Meanwhile the way to figure out how not to use a painkiller, or which not to use, amounts to watching and waiting to see who turns up in the ER or morgue, then looking at how/what they were using the stuff so we can say, “OK, don’t do THAT.” Maybe that’s an unavoidable reality of testing & observation but the human cost is so terrible.

And it seems that as the years go by every single painkiller available – after all the assumptions and assurances of them being “less harmful” or “less addictive than” – is eventually shown to have been causing injuries and deaths that were not recognized as being their fault all this time…

I think if we’re all honest about it these various research studies are just saying that they’re all dangerous toxic compounds to some degree that just happen to have a pain relief (side)effect to them that we can use. I hope the field of Medicine or at least individual doctors and pharmacists start actively shifting towards non-toxic painkillers rather than just distributing whatever strictly-for-profit pharmaceutical companies hand them. It’s *first* do no harm, after all.

Jevaughn Brown

Ray Foucher, natural pain relief guide mgr
September 2, 2011

The first line of defense against pain or the need for pain killers should be a healthy lifestyle to minimize the need for solutions to pain. The second line of defense should be natural means of pain reduction [URL removed by moderator].

It is also important to realize that prescription drugs that merely shut down pain are actually turning off an important (even if painful) signal by the body that something is wrong. That the pain often reaches an intolerable level is just further evidence that the cause is not being adequately dealt with. And then drugs, which do nothing to address the cause are obviously nor the solution.
September 2, 2011

It’s so sad – all the negative side effects from these drugs and the dependency on them that can set in. We can only do our part by informing people of the dangers and offering our help. Remember, this month is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery month (every Sept).

March 17, 2011

Do you have any information on the use of Cannabis as a Pain Killer please.

Peter Wehrwein
March 17, 2011

Last year researchers at McGill University in Montreal reported positive results from a small study of smoked cannabis as a treatment for neuropathic pain. Here is a link to a summary of that study:

J Cat
January 25, 2011

Many people take these pain killers when they have an injury. People really need to look to alternatives. Cold Therapy is often a treatment that is many times over looked. Also a brace to relieve pressure can be helpful. is a great source of information. Herbal medicines don’t really work and also have side affects. Medicine is not the only answer.

January 13, 2011

Well said! While cleaning the apartment of my recently deceased sister-in-law, I filled an entire suitcase with her many, many bottles of the same drugs. She had doctor shopped and pharmacy shopped to acquire these. I know both doctors and pharmacists are extremely busy and I don’t know how they could have discovered her visits to different doctors and pharmacies for the same malady…perhaps a central registry? I know; I can hear the screams of invasion of privacy but could it not be done with just numbers that a computer check would prompt further investigaation b4 the rx was filled?

January 13, 2011

My sister died from Percocet addiction. She did search out the drug and it was prescribed by several doctors who didn’t know the others were prescribing it as well. I would like to see a national registry of opiod painkillers established so patients can’t doctor and pharmacy shop and where the pharmacy would have to notify the doctors of multiple prescriptions and the possible abuse by their patient. I also blame pharmacists who know they are filling multiple prescriptions.
The death rate is soaring. And mixing them with ant alcohol is also deadly.

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