Painkillers That Won't Kill


The continuing controversy over the long-term side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs highlights the medical profession's unreasonable aversion to opioids, which are considerably safer and would be a better choice for many people with moderate to severe chronic pain. While NSAIDs have long been known to cause stomach and/or liver problems in large doses and are now believed to raise the risk of heart attacks, the main long-term problem with opioids (in appropriate doses) is constipation, which can be countered with laxatives. But the opiophobia instilled by the war on drugs prevents an honest weighing of painkillers' risks and benefits.