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02/01/2010

Everyday painkillers become addictive after 3 days of use

(NaturalNews) Over-the-counter painkillers that are widely popular in the United Kingdom can become addictive with as little as three days of use, the country's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned.

"We are really pleased that the MHRA are now sitting up and taking notice," said Brian Iddon, who chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse when it issued a report on codeine and dihydrocodeine abuse. "It is the hidden addiction, but it is affecting many, many more people than we think."

According to government research, roughly 32,000 people across the United Kingdom are addicted to the opiate painkillers codeine or dihydrocodeine, although Iddon's group warned that this was only the "tip of the iceberg."

The drugs are so addictive that many people have become addicted simply through casual use, never having intended to abuse the products. Some addicts take as many as 70 pills a day, risking severe side effects including depression, gallstones, liver malfunction and stomach bleeding.

Under new rules, all products containing the painkillers must now carry "prominently poised" warnings reading, "Can cause addiction. For three days use only." Such medications can only be sold in packets containing 32 tablets or fewer, and advertisers can no longer promote the products for the treatment of colds and coughs. A parliamentary panel had actually suggested that packets be limited to only 18 pills or fewer.

Women are at higher risk of addiction than men, the MHRA said.

The painkillers in question can be purchased without a prescription when combined with other drugs. Some of these combinations are also available over-the-counter in the United States and Canada.

Health professionals have raised concerns that growing numbers of people are purchasing over-the-counter opiates in bulk from Internet pharmacies, and that many doctors and patients are unaware just how addictive the drugs can be.

Sources for this story include: www.dailymail.co.uk.

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