Medication-induced performance deficits: analgesics and narcotics.
Pain is the most common medical complaint, and analgesic drugs are often used for its management. Seven out of 10 Americans took nonprescription pain relievers in the last year. Analgesics are classified as nonnarcotics (acetaminophen, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), narcotics (which include the morphine-like drugs), and analgesic adjuvants (a heterogeneous group of drugs, including antihistamines, phenothiazines, anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers, and tricyclic antidepressants), which may have intrinsic analgesic efficacy for specific pain syndromes or may be used as co-analgesics in combination with the traditional nonnarcotic and narcotic agents. Although these agents can be used safely most of the time by patients with acute or chronic pain, all classes of analgesics may impair cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric functioning, which may influence job performance in specific instances.
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