Painkillers' Effects Are Genetic
Are you among those who end up nauseated, itchy, or drowsy when you take prescription painkillers? Or do you find that the prescribed dose doesn't relieve your pain at all? Then your reactions to the meds are almost certainly rooted in your DNA. Not only that, but the predisposition to addiction to these drugs runs in families as well. Those are among the findings of a Stanford University study of twins published in the journal Anesthesiology on June 20th 2012. A release from the university quotes a lead researcher, Martin Angst MD, as saying, "The study is a significant step forward in efforts to understand the basis of individual variability in response to opioids and to eventually personalize opioid treatment plans for patients." The team reports that some patients may require 10 times the amount of painkillers to get the same level of pain relief as others. Also, for certain people the side effects are so debilitating that use of the meds has to be discontinued. Most significant of all, a percentage of patients can swallow the opoids for months at a stretch without becoming addicts but many are at risk for addiction within a matter of weeks. The lesson here is that if you know of family members who have become addicted to prescription painkillers, you probably shouldn't take them yourself – or at least not for very long. Ask your doctor if there are other pain management options that might be appropriate for you. The same advice holds if you have unpleasant side effects to the meds.