Pain Relief: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The benefits of using pain relief for various medical conditions are well-known and widely accepted. Still, the downside is that these same prescriptions can be highly addictive and dangerous. In this article, we examine the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of opioid use.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are medications that can relieve pain. They are derived from the opium plant and include morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. They work by activating opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This decreases the activity of pain signals sent to the brain and allows relief from pain. There are many opioids available over the counter (OTC) and prescription medications. Some common OTC opioids include tramadol and ibuprofen. Prescription opioids include morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and meperidine.

The Good

Opioids are a type of medication that is used to relieve pain. They work by depressing the central nervous system. Opioids can be taken as pills, injections, or as oral solutions.

The main benefits of opiates include:

  1. They provide short-term relief from pain.
  2. They have few side effects.
  3. They can help treat chronic pain conditions.
  4. They work best when prescribed by a doctor.

The Bad

Opiate medications, such as morphine and codeine, are often the first choice for pain sufferers. But like any medication, there are potential side effects associated with using these drugs. Here are three of the most common side effects of opiates:


Opiate medications can cause a person to feel tired and sleepy. This can be an issue if someone is driving or operating heavy machinery.

Dry Mouth

Because opiates can also decrease saliva production, people taking these medications may experience increased thirst and a reduced ability to eat or drink. This can lead to dehydration and other health problems.

Nausea and Vomiting

Opiate medications can cause nausea and vomiting. This is especially common in people who have not taken these drugs or had adverse reactions.

The Ugly Truth

Opioids are widely prescribed medications that are used to relieve pain. However, they can also be addictive and lead to an opioid abuse epidemic. The bad news is that these treatments can be expensive and difficult to access. Here are four ugly truths about opioid abuse:

Opioid Abuse is Widespread

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), around 2 million people in the United States use prescription opioids illicitly each year, and an estimated 100,000 people die from opioid overdose each year.

Opioid Abuse is Costly

Opioid abuse costs the United States more than $78 billion yearly in health care costs, lost productivity, and criminal justice expenses.

Opioid Addiction is Often Chronic

Around 60% of people who misuse opioids develop an addiction, which means they will need treatment over time to manage their symptoms. This often leads to long-term financial and social costs.

Treating Opioid Addiction is a Hit and Miss Game

Each person responds differently to different types of treatment, so providers must find the right course for each patient. If we or someone we know is struggling with opioid abuse, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Many effective treatment options are available, and we can help find the best fit.

Alternatives to Opioids

There are many alternatives to opioids for pain relief, and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Here are three of the most popular:


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that uses needles to stimulate specific points in the body to relieve pain. While there is evidence that acupuncture can be effective in treating some forms of pain, research indicates that it may not be as effective as traditional opioid medications in relieving chronic pain.


Meditation has improved overall mental health and well-being, reducing stress and improving concentration. According to a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, meditation may also be an effective tool for relieving pain. However, like acupuncture, there is some evidence that meditation may not be as effective as traditional opioid medications in treating chronic pain.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help people with chronic pain by teaching them exercises that can help reduce inflammation and improve overall functionality. It may also include techniques such as heat treatment or electrical stimulation, which effectively treat chronic pain.

Medicate Responsibly and Consciously

Every person experiences pain differently, and the best way to find relief is by experimenting with different methods until we find what works best for us. There are good, bad, and ugly options for pain relief, so don’t be afraid to try a few before settling on one. Just be sure that whatever we choose isn’t going to cause any further damage or inconvenience.

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