Overusing painkillers and sedatives
When they’re not taken properly, long-term habitual use of prescription pain killers can lead to addiction, causing more problems than it solves. Even over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin for arthritis or muscle pain can over time increase your risk for ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, high blood pressure and heart attacks. Clues you’re taking too much of a calming drug or sleeping pill include memory loss, excess sleepiness, feeling unresponsive or confused, and falling frequently. When meds make you feel good, you may want to keep on taking them, turning them into a habit or addiction before you know it. Kicking the sedative and prescription pain pill habit is possible with commitment and support, and once the pill-taking has ceased, your body will quickly rebound from their effects.
How to fix it: New pain-relief strategies can ease muscle, joint and head pain with fewer pills and side effects. For chronic pain, ask your doctor about switching to acetaminophen; it doesn’t cause stomach irritation and doesn’t raise blood pressure like aspirin and ibuprofen. Save ibuprofen for flare-ups of severe, short-term pain. For frequent headaches, see your doctor; migraines can be stopped often with the right medication. If you think you’ll be susceptible to addiction, challenge any doctor who wants to put you on pain, mood or sleeping medication long-term. If you’re already relying too much on them, get help if you can’t stop. There’s no shame in asking for help from family members, friends or your doctor.
Read on to learn about when medicines can do more harm than good.
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