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Marketing has a major role in what kinds of drugs physicians prescribe to their patients and what the latter requests. If you remember, there was once an iconic commercial from Zoloft, “little sad blob” that revealed just how much advertising can impact its consumers. Given that both advertising and marketing provide a source of revenue for a lot of pharmaceutical companies, they may have been reluctant to curbing such actions.

Pfizer once, in an unprecedented move, agreed to adopt a code of conduct on how they will market opioid painkillers. However, the effect of such marketing code is yet to be seen although it may help patients in recognizing the risks of taking a prescription opioid.

Risks of Widespread Opioid Use

A person who opts to take opioids is vulnerable to a long list of risks. One of the risks is opioid dependence. In this state, the individual’s body can become accustomed to drug’s presence in the body. When taken over a long period of time, the body will adjust to the presence of opioids inside often resulting in drug tolerance. Eventually, the body will require even more doses just to achieve a similar effect. In addition, those who are on prescription opioids can also experience withdrawal symptoms especially when they decide to go “cold turkey” on the drug.

Almost all of those who medicate with a prescription opioid in the long run develop opioid dependence to some degree. However, there are those who develop opioid addiction, which occurs once the individual starts to crave the drug and engage in a persistent behavior of taking the drug despite knowing of its harmful consequences. Opioid addiction may also put you at risk of opioid overdose which can result to death.

It Has Benefits Also

Despite the known risks and the opioid epidemic that our country is currently facing, we should not overlook the benefits that prescription opioids can bring. Since morphine was introduced in the 1800s, this type of drugs has already been useful for pain alleviation, especially those associated with medical conditions like surgery. This is known to improve the quality of life of countless of suffering patients. Without the use of prescription opioids, acute injury, a surgical procedure and cancer-related pain can result to a lot of suffering.

More often than not, opioids are prescribed to treat chronic pain.

For many patients, however, prescription opioids can act as a double-edged sword. Prescription opioids may provide symptom relief and help patients go back to their daily life without suffering from chronic pain but the long-term use of these medications may lead to an even increased sensitivity to pain or hyperalgesia.

While the exact mechanisms revolving around the occurrence of such symptoms need further research, it appears that the long-term use of opioids can change the neurons in the system’s pain pathways causing our body to be more sensitive to any painful stimuli. The use of opioids, therefore, in chronic non-cancer pain may lead to an addiction making patients more sensitive to pain. In the long run, this may only end up hurting the patient even more.

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