Painkillers such as morphine have transformed the way pain can be controlled – but there are drawbacks, not least the risk of overdose or becoming dependent. The havoc and misery caused by over-prescribing these drugs in the US has seen hundreds of thousands of people die prematurely.
Chronic pain can be caused by a range of conditions, including diabetes, back problems and fibromyalgia. In England alone, 5.6 million people were given a prescription for an opiate-based medicine in 2018. And at least 25% of these people are thought to have been using the drugs for three months or more. This three-month cut-off is significant as it is the point at which the risk of dependence on these drugs develops.
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