Why are Opioids so Dangerous?

It’s estimated that over 50 million opioid prescriptions are written in the UK each year. This includes drugs containing codeine like Co-codamol and Co-dydramol and others like Tramadol and Pethidine.

So what – you might say – anyone in pain deserves to find relief. Unfortunately, there are side effects that can be very serious indeed.

The use and abuse of these drugs have led to a silent epidemic of drug side effects that’s been fuelled by chronic pain. Opioids temporarily hide pain by attaching to receptors in the brain and boosting feelings of euphoria. Unfortunately, they do nothing to stimulate healing, leading to a cycle of pain > medication > more pain > and more medication. 

Opioids are in the same family of drugs as heroin, and some opioid medications are thought to be even more addictive. The temporary relief that they offer comes at a steep price. 

In lower doses, opioids can cause drowsiness or dizziness. In higher doses, they can cause your breathing and heart rate to slow down to dangerous levels. The most dangerous aspect of opioids is the addiction rate of up to 30%. 

Tolerance of opioids can occur within a matter of days, and withdrawal symptoms are severe and can lead to this addiction. 

Nearly all the latest healthcare guidelines have stopped recommending opioids for non-cancer pain. In most cases, these drugs should not be taken for chronic pain including back pain. 

If you’re struggling with chronic pain, you may be curious about what your best options are for care. How can you fix the cause of your pain, find lasting relief, and avoid these harmful drugs?

You may be surprised to learn that people who saw a chiropractor for spine pain had half the risk of filling an opioid prescription when compared to those who didn’t undergo chiropractic care. In other words, the care provided by chiropractors helped people find enough relief that they no longer sought medication to find relief! 

So – masking back pain with medication can possibly increase your risk of further injury. Movement-based care helps your body heal and can improve your likelihood of finding long term relief. 

Opioids aren’t meant to treat chronic spinal pain. They don’t help your body heal and become less effective at stopping pain the longer you take them. Instead of putting yourself at risk of developing a dependency, it’s a smart decision to explore other treatment options. Start by calling us today to book a consultation. Together, we can create a personalised treatment plan and get you back to where you want to be.



Royal College of Chiropractors Quality Standard on Chronic Pain, 2016 
The Silent Epidemic, British Pain Society www.britishpainsociety.org 
Chronic pain in over 16s: assessment of all chronic pain and management of chronic primary pain.  NICE guideline [NG193]Published: 07 April 2021
Low back pain and sciatica in over 16s: assessment and management; NICE guideline [NG59] Last updated: 11 December 2020
Benefits and harms of spinal manipulative therapy for the treatment of chronic low back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2019;364:l689
Chronic Pain – This is how it feels, Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, 2019