It Must Be Safe; It’s Over-the-Counter Right? – Wrong!Written By: Dr. Stephen F. Grinstead, LMFT, ACRPS, CADC-II Date: February 3rd, 2009. Topic: Member Blogs.
With so much attention to all the news about prescription drug problems one serious problem has gone unnoticed. For example a lot has been printed about the danger of OxyContin and how it kills people—however; I have not seen one report that anyone died who was taking OxyContin as prescribed. But there is a non-prescription medication that kills more people every year. Acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol®) overdose causes more than 450 deaths due to acute liver failure each year in the United States and this number appears to be on the rise. In 2001, the U.S. Acute Liver Failure (ALF) Study found acetaminophen responsible for 39 percent of cases. In 2003, the number had risen to 49 percent.
In fact there are many other over-the-counter (OTC) medications that are highly abused. One example is cold medication. If you’ve ever looked on the cold remedy isle at any large pharmacy you’ll see there are so many choices it’s hard to make a decision. Added to what’s on the shelves are the ubiquitous TV and radio advertisements for cold relief. A problem that some people encounter is when they mix different cold medications. Another problem is people taking OTCs and driving. They don’t realize that they could be charged for driving under the influence if they have an accident.
For people living with chronic pain and taking prescription medications the OTCs can also cause problems. This can be especially problematic when they haven’t told their healthcare providers about the OTCs; many of which have very serious drug interactions. A case in point is someone taking Vicodin and supplementing that with OTC Tylenol (acetaminophen). Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen and it would be very easy to go over the highest limit recommended—4 grams per day.
Please be careful if you take any OTC medication–especially if you’re in recovery. If you’re taking any other medication or even herbal supplements you could be putting your health, or even your life, at risk. Let your doctor know what you take and get his/her input on what is safe and effective for you. Also, if you’re in recovery for any addictive disorder; many of the OTCs could trigger a relapse.
To learn more about my views of how to address problems with prescription medication, please read my article Addressing the Problem of Prescription Drug Abuse/Addiction that you can download for free on our Ariticles page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you are living with chronic pain, especially if you’re in recovery or believe you may have a medication problem and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing your pain and medication effectively, please go to our Publications page and check out my book the Addiction-Free Pain Management® Recovery Guide: Managing Pain and Medication in Recovery. To purchase this book please Click Here.
To listen to a radio interview I did conducted by Mary Woods for her program One Hour at a Time please Click Here to go to this interview.
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