Mild Analgesics

Pharmacologists have been unable to come up with analgesics (pain relievers) of medium strength to fill the gap between aspirin and morphine. They have given us several derivatives of opiates that they claimed were more powerful than aspirin but safer and less addicting than morphine. If these drugs are effective at controlling pain, however, they always turn out to be attractive to opiate addicts and are likely to cause dependence.

One such drug is propoxyphene (Darvon), a prescription analgesic widely used in recent years. Sometimes it is combined with aspirin and caffeine to make it more effective. Despite enthusiastic claims of its manufacturer, most doctors and patients have found Darvon to be not much more effective than aspirin. (Some even feel that when it is combined with aspirin, it is the aspirin that does most of the work.) Besides, the abuse potential of Darvon is of the same sort as that of the strong narcotic analgesics. It took some time for doctors to acknowledge the existence of Darvon abuse, but they are now very familiar with it and much more cautious about dispensing the drug.

In addition to the above categories, many other prescription drugs may have psychoactive effects, even if doctors, pharmacologists, and manufacturers don't recognize them. Sometimes these effects show up in many patients who take a drug, sometimes in only a few. If you begin a course of prescription drug treatment and experience sleepiness, depression, highs, unusual dreams, or other mental changes you cannot account for, the drug may be responsible. To prove it, you would have to stop the drug and, after an interval, start it again to see if there is a relationship between it and the symptoms.

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