Painkillers can be divided into two groups,
•non-narcotic analgesics which can be purchased over the counter
(Tylenol, Advil, etc)
•narcotic analgesics which require a prescription (morphine,
codeine, vicodin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and meperidine).
What are the positive attributes of
• Reduce pain, whether it
is of low, moderate or
• Painkillers don’t raise blood pressure in
men, like they do in women.
• Easily attainable
• Help people relax
What is the history of use?
Aspirin – created in 1897 by Felix Hoffman
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – discovered in 1899 by Karl Morner;
marketed by McNeil Laboratories in 1953
For over 50 years, the only anti-inflammatory drug available was
aspirin. However, this drug caused serious side effects when
taken in large doses or for long periods of time. The minor side
effects normally experienced with taking aspirin became
extremely serious, such as stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal
Ibuprofen was authorized to be sold over-the-counter in the 1980s
and has become the most well known of all the non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs available. Its use has become very
widespread and is, in many cases, used in preference to other
painkillers, due to the reduced side effects of ibuprofen.
What does the drug do to the body?
When abused, painkillers can lead to
dependence, tolerance and addiction.
Immediate Possible Effects
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Stomach pain
• Loss of balance
• Laboured breathing
• Loss of appetite
• Blurred vision
• Impaired co-ordination
• Respiratory depression
• Coma or death due to overdose
Long Term Effects
• Kidney and liver problems
• Decreased sex drive
• Painful or frequent urination
• Menstrual irregularities
• Abnormal restlessness
What are the dangers of abuse?
• Anxiolysis (a drug-induced state where patients respond
normally to verbal commands. Coordination and cognitive
function may be impaired.).
• Central Nervous System effects
• Heart Problems
• Potential for a dangerous or fatal drug overdose
Is abuse common?
• More than 6 million Americans abuse
prescription drugs, according to the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration. (2007)
• One in 10 teenagers admits to abusing
painkillers, such as Vicodin and Oxycontin.
• Painkillers cause more overdoses than cocaine
and heroin combined.
What can be done to reduce abuse?
New drugs are being developed to help prevent
addiction and withdrawal symptoms in patients. This
will help reduce the number of people who begin
taking drugs for legitimate reasons (such as surgery
or childbirth, etc) and end up being addicted to
Increased awareness, new medications used to treat
painkiller abuse and new therapies offer hope for
people struggling with painkiller abuse.