A survey commissioned by ITV’s Tonight programme has found that an incredible 900,000 people across the UK could be misusing over-the-counter painkillers. Even more concerning is the fact that the majority of these cases involve Codeine - a drug which is derived from morphine.
In the survey, people were asked whether or not they took painkillers, what they used them for and if they took them in accordance with the guidelines which state no more than 6-8 tablets in a 24 hour period for a maximum of three days.
Of those who were surveyed, 75% said that they have used them and one in five admitted to taking more than the recommended daily dose. Almost half said that they use over-the-counter painkillers for more than three days in a row and six percent said that they had taken them for more than a year.
Guidelines for the sale of codeine-based painkillers were tightened in 2009 to minimise the risk of overuse and addiction. Despite the fact that prominent warnings have been placed on packets, almost a third of those who take these medicines said that they weren’t even aware that codeine-based painkillers could be addictive.
Codeine-based medicines are often used to treat moderate pain when regular pills such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are insufficient. As they are opioids however, they can induce feelings of calm, relaxation and lethargy and if used longer than the recommended three days, can produce cravings and a psychological desire to keep using them.
Pure codeine is only available on prescription but small doses of it can be found in standard over-the-counter aspirins, ibuprofens, paracetamols and other painkillers.
If you think that you or someone you know could be addicted to painkillers, please feel free to contact Life Works and we will be more than happy to help.