Prescription and over-the-counter analgesic drugs and substances are now considered the third most common form of substance abuse in Australia, after cannabis and ecstasy, with more than half a million people hooked, according to The Medical Journal of Australia.
A Monash University report noted that in extreme cases, some Australians are taking up to 100 household pain killers a day. Researchers warn that many of these pain killers contain a mixture of Codeine and Ibuprofen, which are addictive.
In many cases the addict was previously a patient with genuine need for the painkillers or prescribed drugs, but somehow developed a dependency on the continuance of the prescribed drug. The side-effects of Codeine and Ibuprofen can include gastrointestinal ruptures, renal failure, anaemia, and severe Hypokalaemia (low potassium in the blood), which can cause an irregular heartbeat or paralysis.
Some patients have no history of previous addiction or substance abuse, which highlights the vigilance needed with some prescription drugs. The well known Australian swimming star, Tracey Wickham, falls into this category, and she has acknowledged a long battle with prescription drug addiction that nearly ruined her life.
This group reported lapsing into a habit of daily use of such drugs to cope with such issues as back pain, headaches, and post operative pain, but then found the need for the drug was not linked to the original pain, which may have ceased. Addicts reported a mean range average of 34 to 47 tablets a day when addicted, with extreme cases ranging up to 100 pills a day.
A related issue is the number of addicts and opportunists who “doctor shop” looking for prescriptions of these type of drugs, for purchase and use towards “baking” them down into “Hillbilly” for ms of addictive recreational drugs.
If upon reading this information you think you may have a prescription or painkiller drug addiction, or have a loved one suffering with this issue, then you should consult with your GP in the first instance, and make contact with a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist for further advice.