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Prescription Medications: When the Risks Outweigh the Rewards

In the United States, the use of prescription medications is widespread. From antidepressants to antibiotics, many Americans firmly believe there’s a pill for every ailment. But what about all the side effects and complications associated with those drugs? Couldn’t it be said that, sometimes, the risks outweigh the rewards? Take the drugs listed below, for example. While these medications can provide the necessary treatment when prescribed and taken properly, they can lead to a number of complications, some of which can be life-threatening. Keep reading to find out more.


Antibiotics can be life-saving drugs. When used in the treatment of bacterial infections, these medications are generally considered safe and effective. However, the overuse of antibiotics is a serious concern. For example, when used too frequently, antibiotics can lead to the formation of bacteria that is difficult or, in some cases, impossible to treat. What’s more, in the treatment of viral infections like the flu or chicken pox, antibiotic drugs are completely ineffective, and can end up doing more harm than good.

It’s also important to note that, even when taken as prescribed, antibiotics are associated with serious side effects. For example, the drug Levaquin, which is a powerful antibiotic designed to treat meningitis and other serious infections, has recently been linked to the development of nerve damage and other complications. Other known side effects of antibiotics include allergic reaction, blood disorders and severe gastrointestinal distress.

Before you take an antibiotic, be sure you have all the facts. All too often, doctors prescribe these drugs without knowing your full medical history, which can put you at risk for potential side effects.


In treating severe depression, antidepressants can be extremely beneficial. However, since each patient is different, prescribing these drugs is often a process of trial and error. For many individuals, these procedures have harmful effects on health and wellness. For example, common side effects and complications associated with antidepressant medications include the following:

  • A worsening of symptoms. In some patients, certain antidepressants lead to increased feelings of depression and a heightened risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. These risks are markedly higher among children and adolescents.


  • Physical symptoms like headache, nausea, dizziness, insomnia and sexual dysfunction.


  • In patients over the age of 65, antidepressants increase the risks associated with falling.


  • When taken during pregnancy, antidepressants can lead to birth defects, premature labor and other complications.

Before taking an antidepressant, it may be helpful for patients to seek other methods of treatment. For example, talk therapy can be extremely helpful in addressing the symptoms of depression, as can support groups and other non-drug therapies.

Narcotic Drugs

Prescription painkillers and other narcotic drugs account for a large percentage of the medications prescribed in the United States. These drugs, though sometimes necessary in treating moderate to severe pain and other serious conditions, are linked to a number of potentially-life threatening complications, most notably addiction and overdose. For example, the narcotic drug, OxyContin, which was designed to treat the pain associated with end-stage cancer, is extremely popular among doctors and drug-seeking patients, alike. OxyContin and other opioid drugs like Vicodin and Percocet may be effective at relieving pain, but they also produce a sense of euphoria that often leaves patients coming back for more. All too often, this results in misuse, addiction and, in some cases, death.

If you experience severe pain, ask your doctor about non-narcotic drugs that help alleviate discomfort, as well as non-drug therapies like massage and acupuncture . And if you do take a prescription narcotic for pain, be sure to take it only when absolutely necessary. Also, educate yourself on addiction, and watch out for any warning signs or symptoms. If you develop a problem with these or other drugs, seek treatment immediately.
Although prescription medications are often necessary in treating disease, we can’t ignore the complications associated with some of these drugs. Thankfully, by being made aware of the risks, we’re better-equipped to prevent and address any harmful effects.

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