Painkiller Culture


Last week I tripped while out on a run and sprained my ankle. It was nothing serious, but it was sore and so I took two Advil. Then 8 hours later I took another dose. The next morning my ankle still hurt so I took another dose and this continued on for another two days. However, after my ankle was feeling better, as I was taking my morning medications I found myself instinctively reaching for the pill bottle. I obviously wasn’t addicted, I didn’t feel like I needed the painkiller, it just had become habit.

Many Americans also experience this as WebMD reports that, “A new survey shows nearly half of the 175 million adults who take over-the-counter pain relievers admit to exceeding the recommended dose, and few are aware of the potential risks.”

Thankfully, I was cautious about following the dosage on the bottle because overdoses on over the counter medications are more common than one would think.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The American Association of Poison Control Centers  “Acetaminophen overdose sends as many as 78,000 Americans to the emergency room annually and results in 33,000 hospitalizations a year. Acetaminophen is also the nation’s leading cause of acute liver failure.”

It is extremely easy to take too many painkillers, as people often just want the pain to go away, but it is important to recognize the risk because it can be extremely dangerous.

“But just because a medication is available without a prescription doesn’t mean it’s risk free” explains Linda Golodner, president of the National Consumers League, who sponsored a leading survey on over the counter painkillers.

So next time you go to take a few Advil, keep the risks in mind and ask yourself if the dose is really necessary.