top of page

Quick fixes and long-term failures

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

Painkillers Don't Exist.

There is an NHS campaign that launched recently across Sunderland and County Durham called Painkillers Don’t Exist. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangerous effects of long-term high-dose pain medication and empower people living with pain to make informed decisions about their health.

The campaign involves local GPs, pharmacists and health professionals, and has been launched in the North East because it is currently the highest opioid prescribing area in the country. Across County Durham, more than 55,000 prescriptions for opioids and gabapentinoids are dispensed each month, with an estimated 8,000 patients taking a risky combination of the two drugs every four weeks.

That’s a pretty shocking set of statistics, though in the broader context it is estimated that 7.1 million adults in England take prescribed opioids or gabapentinoid pain medication, with drugs such as codeine, morphine and tramadol often prescribed as a ‘quick fix’ to patients following an injury or operation.

Which brings us into the fitness arena, where dedication (obsession?) about looking as fantastic as possible can lead to injury and the search for shortcuts to limit the amount of time that members spend out of the gym.

I’ve spoken in the past about the need for effective and sensible recovery after training because, even though this may appear to be a sedentary activity, it is also a key component in making progress on any fitness programme. But respecting injury and the need to recover before stressing the body through sustained exercise is just as important, and crucial in building long-term health and fitness.

The truth is that most people when they encounter injury on the gym floor can reach for quick relief to get them through a period of discomfit or pain when recovering from injury. I know this from my years playing rugby, as well as training myself and clients. It is when this turns into the masking of pain to allow further exertion that this kind of temporary measure can turn into long-term damage.

As Painkillers Don’t Exist makes clear, over-dependence on the masking effects of painkillers can lead to ad