The UK’s Problem with Painkillers

A new survey by Nuffield Health has shown that seven million people – almost 20% of the working population – rely on painkillers just to get up go to work.

These include over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, but also includes stronger, more addictive drugs such as codeine and Tramadol.  So here are a few things you should know before breaking out the painkillers.

  • Many over-the-counter products such as simple paracetamol and aspirin aren’t addictive. But it’s also possible to buy Co-codamol – paracetamol with codeine – without a prescription. Stronger doses of Co-codamol, which contain more codeine, are available on prescription. These are easier to get hooked on since they contain more of the addictive ingredient.
  • If you’re in doubt about how addictive Co-codamol can be, consider this: codeine is an opiate, which means it’s in the same class of drugs as heroin and morphine. So you should only ever take pills containing codeine occasionally, in small doses, and when in serious pain.
  • The side effects of paracetamol and ibuprofen, if taken over long periods of time, can be very dangerous. These include liver damage, stomach ulcers and internal bleeding. They are particularly dangerous when mixed with alcohol since it becomes even harder for the liver to break down.
  • Of course, if you are in any serious pain, you should see your GP, who will be able to advise you on an effective, safe form of pain relief.

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