When That Once-Wondrous Drug Works For You No More

The effects of pain-killing medications can wear off with time. Here's why, and what to do when your body builds resistance.

When arthritis becomes severe, and anti-inflammatory drugs no longer stop the pain, many people turn to stronger pain-killing medications, such as opiate-containing narcotics, for relief. But with narcotics, the more you use them, the less effective they become. To get the same effect, you have to increase the dose, a phenomenon known as tolerance. A specific receptor in the brain is upregulated, or activated, by opiates, explains Nagy Mekhail, M.D., chairman of the department of…
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