When it feels like someone is taking a hammer to your skull and pounding away, the pain can make it difficult to concentrate, completely disrupting your productivity. So, you take a couple Advil and before you know it, the pain is gone!

That’s the beauty of painkillers. They stop the pain, so you can continue on with your day.

Unfortunately, painkillers aren’t without their fair share of risks. And when speaking specifically about powerful opioids like OxyContin or Percocet, painkillers can have very negative effects on your body. In this article, we’ll review how pain pills work and discuss the long-term effects painkillers can have on the body.

How Do Painkillers Work?

Let’s go back to the headache example. After twisting off the cap to the Advil bottle, you pour a couple pills into your hand and grab a glass of water. You then toss the pills to the back of your mouth, take a sip of water and swallow.

You know Advil always does the trick when you have a headache, but do you know what it’s actually doing to make your headache go away?

The whole reason we feel pain is because of the way our bodies communicate with our brains. When we’re in pain, the central nervous system transmits signals to opiate receptors in the brain. These signals help us perceive the discomfort we’re feeling.

But when we take a painkiller, the drug does two things: First, it depresses the central nervous system, making it more difficult for pain signals to reach the brain. Second, it attaches to opiate receptors to block pain signals coming from the body. Painkillers also cause feelings of relaxation and euphoria, preventing you from feeling any of the pain you were feeling before.

Stronger painkillers like OxyContin – as well as illegal opioids like heroin – do the exact same thing, but in a much more powerful way that can quickly lead to abuse and addiction.

Long-Term Effects of Painkiller Abuse on the Body

When you take a painkiller like OxyContin longer or more often than you should, you’re preventing your body from relieving pain naturally. These drugs trick your brain into thinking it needs the painkiller in order to feel good, which decreases your body’s ability to produce “feel good” chemicals and endorphins on its own.

This constant use of painkillers also takes a heavy toll on the central nervous system. We’ve already said opioid painkillers depress the central nervous system to help block pain, but too much of it can lead to significantly slower breathing, slowed bodily reactions and slurred speech.

The effects of painkillers aren’t just isolated to the central nervous system and your body’s natural ability to relieve pain, either. In fact, painkiller dependence and addiction can have a ripple effect across your entire body:

  • Your Liver: Your liver is what breaks down and processes the drugs you take. When you abuse pain pills, your liver stores the toxins from these drugs, leading to dangerous and life-threatening liver damage.
  • Your Heart: Some people crush or inject painkillers directly into their bodies in order to feel immediate effects. But doing this causes the drug to enter directly into the bloodstream, which affects the heart. Long-term painkiller abuse can lead to serious cardiovascular issues, heart attacks and heart disease.
  • Your Stomach: Stomach and intestinal issues can arise even after a day or two of taking painkillers. Painkiller abuse can lead to constipation, bloating, abdominal distention, bowel obstructions and hemorrhoids.
  • Your Veins: Injecting painkillers always comes with high risk, especially if the needles have been shared or aren’t sterilized. Injecting drugs like opioid painkillers can lead to collapsed veins and blood-borne infections and diseases.

Once addicted to painkillers, there’s no escaping it without going through withdrawal. While withdrawal doesn’t last forever, these symptoms include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, muscle aches and pains, agitation and anxiety. It’s common to overdose when trying to relieve withdrawal symptoms, which is why it’s important to seek treatment immediately if you or someone you love is struggling with painkiller addiction.

Reclaim Your Life from Painkiller Addiction at Fountain Hills Recovery

Does all this mean you should never take a painkiller when you have a headache or are injured? Of course not. But what it does mean is that painkillers are serious drugs that can have negative effects on your body if abused.

At Fountain Hills Recovery, we know the opioid epidemic has touched everyone’s life in one way or another – whether it’s been your own struggle with painkiller abuse or an addiction of someone you know. We understand what you’re going through because it has touched our lives, too.

That’s why it’s our mission to provide personalized, effective and caring painkiller addiction treatment at our luxury facility in Fountain Hills, Arizona. When you’re here, you will be able to disconnect from the outside world and focus on recovering from your addiction with our experienced and renowned staff.

If you’re ready to regain the hope, integrity and life you had before painkiller addiction, contact us today to learn more about our programs and treatment approach.