Even non-fatal side effects lead to somewhere between 1.5 and 2.7 million hospitalizations each year, costing patients time and money. Federal law requires pharmaceutical companies to list all known side effects. Then, they must investigate the side effects with human studies before printing it in the pamphlet released with the drug upon prescription. Side effects can occur due to a number of reasons, including high dosage, adverse interactions with other drugs, or an individual’s reaction to an ingredient in the drug.
The most common drug side effects cited by patients in the United States include:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Skin reactions, including dermatitis
- Heart Arrhythmia
- Suicidal thoughts
This list is certainly not comprehensive. In fact, as new drugs come about, the potential for new side effects remains.
The Potential For Addiction
As previously mentioned, the addictive properties of many prescription pain medications present an entirely different side to the prescription drug problem in the United States. Currently, the country is experiencing an opioid crisis the likes of which we have never seen before. In fact, the crisis – which many are calling an epidemic due to its rapid spread and steep rise – caused over 400,000 overdose deaths since 1997 and continues to kill 130 Americans every day.
Due to their chemically addictive properties, anyone can become addicted to opioids, even first-time users attempting to recover from a surgery or stave off the pain of a chronic condition. Commonly abused opioids include:
- Hydrocodone, such as Vicodin
- Oxycodone like OxyContin and Percocet
- Hydromorphone, such as Dilaudid
Though opioids are currently under fire from the government as well as private citizens, other classes of prescription drugs put you at risk for addiction as well, having caused over 700,000 deaths due to overdose between 1997 and 2017. Besides opioids, commonly abused prescriptions include:
- Stimulants, including Adderall and Ritalin
- Depressants, including Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and Luminal
The longer you take a highly addictive prescription drug, the higher your risk of addiction and the harder it will be to cease taking it.