When medicine turns deadly

Two stories trending on social media this week may be worlds apart, but they have something huge in common: it isn’t just street drugs that can harm or kill you.

The bottle of cough medicine you bought for the family medicine cabinet last week – is it still there? By now it could have your pre-teen, or the neighbour’s, buzzing numbly through their school day.

Over the last two weeks, a couple of school principals and a pharmacist have spoken up on news and radio interviews about a trending concoction known by names like “syrup”, “lean” or “purple drank”. Kids are using cough-mixtures, codeine, soft drinks and even alcohol to create this mixture, which – for obvious reasons – can be addictive and very dangerous.

Is this issue really that serious?

Some of the key ingredients in these mixtures:

  • promethazine, found in cough mixtures, acts as a sedative. You don’t need your 12-year-old walking around school sedated.
  • codeine, a dissociative drug with similar effects to Ketamine, can cause what is described as a kind of out of body experience. It’s also a narcotic, and can lead to addiction. And too much can cause seizures.

So, clear the old medicines out of your medicine cabinet, and then lock it.

The second story

We’ve been waiting to hear the autopsy results on music icon Prince’s sudden death in May – the news is out and cause of death was an overdose of fentanyl. So, what’s fentanyl? It’s a powerful prescription painkiller, usually given by injection and, apparently, many times more potent than heroin.

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Why did this happen? People close to the gifted entertainer say that he had suffered a great deal of pain due to hip and knee injuries, and use of opioid painkillers over a period of time is likely to cause addiction.

A serious take-home message

Just because you can take a pain-killer, don’t ignore long-term pain. Pain is a warning sign, and simply numbing it away is like driving with your engine warning-light on: soon, your engine is just going to seize. So, get it seen to!

Managing pain the safe way

Prince chose not to use the option of surgery to correct his hip and knee conditions, due to personal beliefs. If you are suffering from chronic pain, talk to your doctor about various treatment and relief options available.

While it’s easier on your schedule to just pop a couple of painkillers, they can be dangerous. Rather take some time to get to the bottom of the matter.