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Non-Opioid Analgesics: Side Effects & How They Work

Non-Opioid Analgesics: Side Effects & How They Work

Opioids are also referred to as narcotics, and the drugs are meant to be used as a medication prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, especially after surgery. Examples of opioids include Vicodin, OxyContin, and Morphine. Opioids are highly addictive and can cause detrimental long-term health issues, so many people opt instead to take non-opioid analgesics. These fast-acting analgesics can be beneficial in monitoring and reducing pain. In addition, the overall safety and efficacy of the drug, compared to opioid use, can be much more reliable and decrease general health risks.

Examples of Non-Narcotic Analgesics

Tylenol (acetaminophen), Motrin (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen sodium) are commonly used as non-opioid analgesics to relieve pain. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is available in various strength levels. The element is meant to affect cyclooxygenase in the brain, which is responsible for the physiological and pathological effects of processes and the interaction with G-protein coupled membrane receptors. The point of this active ingredient, like most analgesics, is to give more pain relief while decreasing the dose of the highly addictive narcotic component.

Other examples of non-opioid analgesics include:

  • Gabapentin
  • Aspirin
  • Corticosteroids
  • Medical cannabis
  • Muscle Relaxants
  • Anticonvulsants like Lyrica

Other non-opioid pain management techniques include home remedies like taking turmeric or magnesium. Physical therapy, surgery, and topical options like specific ointments can also help relieve pain naturally, plus using them helps avoid addiction and potential overdose. However, if you or someone you love displays signs of addiction, heroin or opiate addiction treatment should be immediately sought to prevent long-term adverse effects.

Side Effects of Non-Opioid Analgesics

Although negative impacts on the body and mind from non-opioid analgesics are not extremely common or as high risk as opioids or opiates, there are adverse effects of any substance that is misused. Dry mouth and constipation are commonly reported, but more side effects include:

  • Ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Pruritus (itchy skin)
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary retention
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Forming a high tolerance
  • Gastrointestinal complications

If a person is using external analgesics, it’s important to take note of the most potent non-opioid painkiller and speak to a doctor about the level of pain you are experiencing to avoid unnecessary long-term use. Other modern pain relief options are using advanced technology to provide treatment. For example, radio waves or radiofrequency ablation involves inserting a needle next to the nerve that is causing pain. Burning the nerve that sends signals of pain can relieve the pain for up to one year.

Other sources include nerve blocking by x-ray imaging, but relief may require multiple injections in the neck or other specific areas of the body. Also, pain pumps allow you to push a button and deliver pain medication to the spinal cord. More future solutions are to come as technology advances, including the benefits of using stem cells to rebuild rapidly.

Addiction Treatment at Our Massachusetts Addiction Treatment Center

If you or a loved one is seeking heroin addiction treatment or other forms of substance abuse treatment, Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts has the therapy and programs you need to recover. Non-opioid analgesics are a wonderful resource that provides fewer addictive compounds. Plus, we offer mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and relapse prevention plans to ensure patients can maintain sobriety.

Please don’t hesitate to contact a professional at our Massachusetts rehab at 888-280-4763 and ask about our special levels of care to get started on the path to recovery today!


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Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.