Anyone who has suffered an injury or recovered from a surgery knows how useful painkillers can be in managing the pain.

While most people who are prescribed painkillers to deal with their physical discomforts use the medications appropriately, a large number of individuals find themselves abusing the medication regardless of the dangers associated with their behaviors.

In fact, a recent study showed that over the course of one year, 18 million people aged 12 years or older admitted to abusing a prescribed painkiller. Of those who admitted painkiller abuse, two million were first-time users – which factors out to about 5,500 new pain pill abusers per day.1

So, how bad are prescription painkillers for you, really? Do they inflict long-term damage on your body or simply put you at an increased risk for immediate physical repercussions?

Understanding the amount of harm that prescription painkillers can cause to your body – with both short- and long-term abuse – is essential to knowing their overall danger and avoiding all of the hazards associated with painkiller abuse and addiction.

What Painkillers Do to the Body

Painkillers are meant to relieve the pains associated with viable medical issues and procedures. While a large majority of people use them for their intended purpose, the percentage of individuals abusing prescription painkillers has skyrocketed over the past two decades.

Painkillers work by binding to opiate receptors in the brain and spinal cord, mimicking the effects of naturally produced pain relieving chemicals, while also blocking the perception of pain and allowing a person to better manage feelings of discomfort.

For someone struggling with pain management, painkillers can provide much needed relief from severe pain and discomfort. However, for someone abusing painkillers, the euphoric feeling they provide often masks the detrimental, and sometimes deadly, effects the pills are having on the body.

How Painkillers Effect the Body in the Short-Term

When you start abusing painkillers, the impact on your body is almost immediate. This is due to the manner in which the medication interacts with both the neurological and gastrointestinal systems within your body.

Common side effects can include:

  • Constipation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea

While these effects can be extremely serious, taking painkillers without a proper prescription can also result in an unintentional overdose, leaving a person in a coma or, in some instances, dead.

Thinking this will never happen to you is precisely why overdose deaths related to prescription pain killer abuse continue to rise around the country.

How Painkillers Effect the Body in the Long-Term

In the long-term, prescription painkiller abuse and addiction can result in an array of serious physical complications. This is primarily due to the way your body adjusts to your painkiller abuse, increasing your tolerance levels and throwing your body’s natural functioning completely out of order.

Some of the more serious physical issues related to long-term painkiller abuse include:

  • An increasingly weakened immune system
  • Severe depression
  • Hypotension or dangerously low blood pressure
  • Physical addiction

Fostering long-term painkiller abuse requires the body to adjust to the substances entering your system. This often forces a person to increase their dosage to achieve the same high and maintain their state of intoxication.

The way prescription painkillers suppress your breathing and cardiovascular functionality can cause your body to stop breathing, which is a common way that most overdose deaths occur.

Physical Effects of Painkillers: Is It Worth It?

Having to take painkillers that are prescribed appropriately to address a physical issue can be complicated enough. Short-term use of prescription painkillers have been shown to result in physical addiction that can require a medically monitored detox process to avoid unnecessary complications.

Making the decision to abuse prescription painkillers without any previous prescription is dangerous on multiple levels. Not only can it result in serious physical complications, but it can also drive a person toward increasingly dangerous substances when painkillers are no longer available.

Studies have shown that a staggering 80% of heroin users started their addiction with prescription painkillers and escalated their use overtime.2 Underestimating the addictive properties associated with prescription painkillers is a mistake, and one that could easily lead to a debilitating and potentially deadly addiction.

If you find yourself dealing with prescription painkiller abuse, it is imperative that you admit a problem exists and immediately begin the process of initiating your recovery journey to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Life-Changing, Holistic Painkiller Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

There is no simple solution to overcoming a prescription painkiller addiction, so beginning the process of rehabilitation is an essential first step toward identifying the severity of your painkiller abuse and potentially saving your own life.

As a luxury, non-12-step rehab in California, Ranch Creek Recovery offers an alternative approach to addiction rehab. We go beyond the traditional, widely used 12-step program and focus on tailor-fitting each recovery program to address every patient’s unique needs.

With a more intimate recovery experience, a higher level of care, a serene environment, individual recovery plans and a holistic approach, you can be sure you will receive everything needed to achieve sobriety and prepare for a thriving, sober life.

Learn more about our painkiller addiction treatment programs.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607


1 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Accessed August 25, 2019.

2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Heroin. Accessed August 25, 2019.