Although America is struggling with opioids, those aren’t the only drugs of concern. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can be easily bought in gas stations and grocery stores are more popular than ever – drugs like Tylenol and Advil are becoming a go-to for many. It makes sense – OTC drugs are saving Americans an average of $77 billion in clinical cost savings and $25 billion in drug costs savings, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. While these medications are beneficial in that way, there are other risks associated with their use.
For example, a new study conducted by researchers from the Boston University School of Health found that nearly one in five users exceed the recommended daily dose for over-the-counter drugs during a one-week period. Many consumers aren’t as concerned about this issue because they aren’t addictive like opioids, but this is a dangerous perception to hold. NBC News reports that taking too much over-the-counter drugs can cause health complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding and heart attacks.
Furthermore, lack of research into OTC drugs means that many people are taking drugs that aren’t even meant to help reduce the symptoms they are experiencing. Dr. Liffert Vogt of the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands wrote in an email to Reuters,
“…Many people use [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs] for indications other than pain, such as the flu, allergies, fever – and there is no medical base that indicates that [these] or acetaminophen are of any use under these circumstances.”
The biggest concern is that while efforts to reduce the opioid epidemic are influencing doctor’s prescribing decisions, consumers aren’t necessarily encouraged to change their ways – leading them to abusing other drugs that are available. Overall, our culture has centered around poor management of chronic pain, and opioids are not the only problematic response we are experiencing to this.
If you’re struggling with addiction, seek help today. There are many resources available, and healthy ways to cope with pain.
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