The Dangers of Opioid-Based Painkillers

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It is often said that America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, and statistics support that statement. Most people recognize that opioids are harmful, but they may not realize how many forms they take, what they do to the body, and why medical professionals are turning more towards opioid alternatives Chicago to treat pain. Here is a quick look at the dangers that opioids present.

Slow Breathing and Heart Rate

Let’s begin with the physical effect opioids have on the body. The reason that opioids such as oxycontin or Percocet make such effective painkillers is that they do two big things simultaneously. They block pain and slow down your body. The pain block is effective, but temporary. The slowed-down breathing and heart rate create a deeply relaxing feeling for the user, as the body’s physical stress is diminished, causing them to feel their mental stress decrease as well. This is the “high” that opioids provide. Unfortunately, it is also temporary, which leads to more dangerous problems.


The combination of the powerful pain-blocking effect that opioids provide, the euphoric effect of the high they deliver, and the short-term duration of both, it is understandable that patients will want to continue using them after their dose wears off. In small, controlled, prescribed doses, most people run little risk of being addicted while they are using them to recover. However, some patients, particularly those with chronic pain, become addicted and seek the drugs out on the black market after their prescriptions run out.


In addition to the obvious societal issues of drug dependency, chronic use of opioids can lead to overdoses where the heart and breathing slow down to dangerous levels, leading to comatose states, and often, death.

The danger of opioids, particularly the illegal sale and use of them, is hard to overstate. Both the medical and criminal justice fields need to closely enforce and regulate their proper use.