Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyers: The Dark Side of Opioid Pain Killers
July 11, 2016
Just because one gets a doctor’s prescription for opioid painkillers does not mean they are immune to the health risks that accompany taking these drugs. Opioids are a class of drugs that include legal drugs like oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine, as well as illegal drugs like heroin. Unfortunately, legal or not, opioids can be extremely addictive because they trigger the pleasure response area of the brain. Regular, prescribed use can turn to addiction when the person gives in to the overwhelming desire to maintain the “high” that these drugs can cause.
We all know the devastating effect heroin can have on the body, but opioid painkillers can wreak havoc on the body as well, especially when taken in ways other than prescribed by a doctor. Opioids stop the production of norepinephrine, which helps keep the body alert, leaving one feeling fatigued. One may notice that their skin feels warm and flushed, and their breathing will become slower. Many pharmaceutical companies have designed formulations of these drugs that help prevent abuse, including extended release forms of some of the more common painkillers.
Unfortunately, people have found ways around this by crushing, snorting, or injecting the drugs in order to experience the effects more quickly. This can end in fatal overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), close to half a million Americans died from opioid painkillers and heroin overdoses between 2000 and 2014. Because of the addictive nature of these drugs, it is crucial that patients comply with their physician’s instructions.
Dangerous Link to Heroin Use
The CDC report also found a link between people who abused opioid painkillers and those who used heroin. In fact, those who used opioid painkillers were 40 times more likely to abuse heroin than people who never used them. Furthermore, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost half of the young people surveyed in three recent studies who had injected heroin said that they used opioid painkillers before they began using heroin.
As the addiction becomes more intense, and the person uses more drugs, they tend to build a tolerance. This starts a dangerous cycle of needing more of the drug to achieve the same high. Since an extended use of opioid painkillers causes the brain to adapt to them, an individual who stops taking them will likely experience typical withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How Hospitals Can Help
- Educate clinicians about appropriate prescribing practices
- Provide treatment referrals to patients with substance abuse issues
- Make sure that patients that have been treated for substance abuse are properly discharged
- Communicate appropriately with individuals in the ER who appear to be seeking drugs
- Look into alternative pain management options other than opioid painkillers
- Keep all opioids under close supervision
Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Represent Victims of Defective and Dangerous Drugs
Philadelphia product liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP work closely to ensure injured victims get the help they need and the financial compensation they deserve. For a confidential case review, call us today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. Our offices are located in Center City, Philadelphia where we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.