We all know Dr Gregory House from the fictional series House MD and his addiction for popping Vicodin pills. Treated for an injury in his right leg, House was prescribed Vicodin at the time of his treatment but he got hitched on to the pills and never stopped popping them. The opioid epidemic currently claims over 91 lives per day and the addiction starts from a basic fall or sports injury or a short trip to the Emergency Room. In a new study, it has been found that normal over-the-counter painkillers treat pain to almost the same level as the prescribed opioids. Consider the pain gone without the risk of being addicted to the painkillers.

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The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and it was conducted on the patients who showed up at the Montefiore Medical Center’s Emergency Department in the Bronx. 416 patients were divided into four groups, each one getting a separate painkiller for their pain. The first group got a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen tablets, while the rest of them were prescribed Percocet, Vicodin, and Tylenol No. 3. The patients reported a drop in the pain at almost the same level among all the groups, the difference between them being statistically insignificant. So why do doctors prescribe narcotic drugs that are addictive instead of regular painkillers?

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There is a belief among patients that the costlier, harder to get, and riskier prescription medicines will treat their pain much better than what is available in their own homes. Also, a 1986 WHO report recommends doctors to prescribe mild opioids as codeine escalating to stronger ones, including hydrocodone and oxycodone. Doctors need to stem away from the old documents and keep up with the new studies in order to avoid their patients becoming addicted to opioids. There needs to be a prescription model which ranges from regular painkillers to the opioids as the intensity of pain increases.

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