Acetaminophen is the ingredient in Tylenol. It is used as a buffer in many pain medications.
What all the advertisements and few doctors tell you is: It Can Kill You.
In a past airing of their show, Dateline focused on a person who took 100 Vicodin a day. They overlooked the fact that this person had more to fear from the acetaminophen in Vicodin than the actual Vicodin.
Each Vicodin tablet contains 500 mg. of acetaminophen. Pharmacists interviewed say that in adults, toxicity of acetaminophen can occur at a level as low as 5.85 grams with 10 grams being considered fatal. Anyone taking 100 Vicodin a day would ingest 50 grams of acetaminophen. Their liver would give out and they would drop over dead.
It happens to teenagers every day. They swallow the Tylenol like candy for cramps, muscle aches, or just because they're angry at their parents. Then they go about their day until suddenly they become very ill. Rushed to the hospital, they often die en route. Was it Ecstasy? Oxycontin? No it was plain old Tylenol.
There are situations where Vicodin and other medications containing acetaminophen are used long term under a doctor's care. The problem with stories like Dateline's is that the public hears this and is afraid to use a very effective pain medication or suspects anyone taking Vicodin of being addicted.
Addiction is defined as needing more and more of the drug, a desperation so deep that the addict will do anything to get the drug. It has nothing to do with pain control.
More than 125,000,000 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. The drug most recommended? Tylenol. The recommended dosage on the bottle? Eight tablets per day. Taken day are day after day, the patients blissfully go along free of an upset stomach. Meanwhile their liver is ticking away like a little time bomb. When wlll it hit ENOUGH?
It depends. Does the person also drink? Worse, does the person take Tylenol to prevent a hangover or cure a headache the next day? Double trouble for the liver is also filtering the alcohol from the blood stream.
Along with any other medications and toxins, the liver is an active orgam.
People in pain aren't known to eat a healthy diet, so how many times is that Tylenol taken on an empty stomach, going right to the blood stream and hence to the liver for cleansing.
Again, not good.
So when it comes to a choice between a narcotic and, say, Tylenol, the side effects really need to be studies.
Dateline's story claimed Vicodin is "white collar heroin." Such false stories cause serious stress, anger, and outrage for patients with real injuries and real pain. Dateline also included a small segment on a man who has been able to live a normal life for eight years by taking a prescribed dosage of Vicodin, administered by a physician. Even in this case, Dateline emphasized that this man was addicted to the medication.
Who is Dateline to be making these claims, to be making blanket claims for an entire population because of one or two people's crazy statements?
Dateline skirted the borders of claiming outright that anyone who takes Vicodin will become addicted to it, but the inference was clear.
Many groups of people in pain have formed activist organizations to fight this very kind of inaccurate information, such as the American Pain Foundation. Several states already have intractable pain laws, requiring physicians to treat pain and protecting them from prosecution for doing so. We need to pass legislation in every state to put such laws in place.
The United States' Drug Enforcement Agency has decided to pursue physicians, resulting in the suspension of medical licenses. Dateline ran a second story about a physician who is no longer allowed to prescribe pain medication. When another physician assessed the doctor's cases, he said he would have prescribed more medication considering the condition of the patients involved.
Dateline should be more worried about drug smuggling, sales, and the growing use of heroin and illegal drugs among young people.
According to Paul D. Goldenheim, M.D., Vice President of Purdue Pharma L.P. in Norwalk, Connecticut, "Proper use of medication is an essential weapon in the battle against persistent pain. But too often fear, misinformation and poor communication stand in the way of their legitimate use."
Don't believe that anyone who takes Vicodin will become addicted, forge prescriptions, and end up in jail.
DO believe and anyone who takes that quantity of acetaminophen can overdose and die.
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