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22 Common Medications That Can Be Bad Long-Term

Methotrexate

Methotrexate, along with other chemotherapeutic agents, are dangerous in the long-term. It treats everything from arthritis to cancer, but it comes at a serious risk. It kills cells — all cells — without regard for the type of cell it is killing. It’s dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn children.

It can cause fatal reactions in people also taking NSAIDs. Bone, liver, kidney, intestinal, and immune problems are all associated with this drug and its long-term usage.

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Xanax

Xanax is an extremely common drug used for anxiety and panic disorders. There are about 50 million prescriptions for it issued each year. Valium, another similar drug, is also very popular. What most people don’t realize, however, is that they are dangerous drugs.

Any benzodiazepine drug, like these two, puts the users at risk. In addition to addiction, benzodiazepine drugs can cause a few brain-related problems such as delirium, psychosis, depression, memory impairment, and sedation when they are used long-term.

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Antibiotics

Doctors are becoming less likely to prescribe an antibiotic unless absolutely necessary. Using them long-term can cause adverse side effects on immunity, including getting sick with illnesses due to drug-resistant bacteria. It can also lead to digestive problems due to the lack of healthy bacteria in your gut. Antibiotics have also been linked to increasing the risk of Type 1 Diabetes with prolonged use. 

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Prozac

Prozac is an antidepressant drug used by nearly 6 million Americans. Most people take it without hesitation — scary when you consider that it is a drug that is designed to alter your brain composition.

They are meant to be taken for a year or two tops, but this drug is highly addictive, and many people opt to keep taking it for longer periods of time. Antidepressants are linked to stomach bleeding, low sodium levels, and increased risk of strokes.

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Heartburn Drugs

Heartburn is extremely common. Most people will suffer from it in some way at some point during their lives. Heartburn is a misleading name, though. It’s the result of stomach acid flowing up into your esophagus, some place it’s obviously not supposed to be.  Heartburn drugs function to repress your stomach acid.

While this may be fine for short-term uses, long-term use will cause problems because stomach acid is crucial to our health. Add in the fact that these drugs do nothing to fix your problem, only hide it, and it leaves you wondering why you aren’t already looking for newer, better ways to manage your heartburn.

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Prednisone

Prednisone is a steroid that many consider to be a miracle drug, working wonders to help people struggling with a few diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, and immune disorders.

Using it for longer than a few weeks can cause problems, and using it for longer than a few months can make it so risky to simply stop taking the medication that you need professional help to wean yourself off. It can cause high blood pressure, weight gain, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, and diabetes, among other problems.

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Estrogen

As women go through menopause, their body stops producing as much estrogen as it had up until that point. These results in a variety of problems, some of which are simply uncomfortable while others are downright dangerous.

Sometimes, these women take hormone-therapy drugs to get their estrogen levels higher to relieve these problems. Long-term use of estrogen comes with plenty of documented problems, such as an increased risk of breast cancer, blood clots, and dementia.

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Diuretics

Diuretics force the body to excrete excess water to help the kidney. Long-term use can deplete the body of vital minerals because of this flushing, removing minerals such as potassium and magnesium. These drugs have also been tied to increased mortality rates and heart failure.

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Antipsychotics

Antipsychotic drugs are used to treat a large variety of disorders ranging from mental health ones such as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder to more common health problems such as sleep or anxiety. Antipsychotic drugs are designed for people with schizophrenia, however.

These drugs have limited testing available for how well they work for or whether they should be used long-term with other problems. Long-term use may result in weight gain or movement disorders. Elderly users may even be put at a higher risk for strokes.

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NSAIDs

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs, are used to reduce pain and inflammation. Because of this, we see people using them for extended periods of time. 

 

This can be problematic for older adults, where we see them put at risk for indigestion, ulcers, and stomach and colon bleeding. It’s not unusual to see blood pressure rise or to see kidneys harmed because of these drugs. Users are even put at risk for heart failure.

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Nasal Sprays

A stuffy nose can be irritating, but you shouldn’t use them longer than the timeframe on the label. Taking the medication too long can actually make your congestion worse.

It isn’t unusual for an individual to be unable to breathe without using nasal sprays long-term. The nose becomes unable to clear itself, meaning it becomes a necessary medication to breathe from your nasal passages. 

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Benadryl

Benadryl is commonly taken for allergies, but some people take it as a sleeping pill. No matter the reason, this drug can be dangerous long-term. Some people can become addicted to it, and the body will become dependent.

Insomnia, nausea, anxiety, and constipation are just a few of the symptoms a person can experience. Long-term use also affects mental cognition, especially in the elderly. It can cause depression, fatigue, confusion, and even hallucinations.

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Tylenol

Tylenol is great for short-term use, but patients should think twice about using it long-term. Recently, studies have shown that scientists and doctors underestimated the risks of acetaminophen. Liver damage is the most common long-term side effect. Some of the drug is converted into a toxic metabolite that can harm liver cells.

Reports say that the damage usually goes unnoticed until it’s too late, making this drug even more dangerous. What’s more, the World Health Organization suggestion people take no more than 325mg in one sitting to prevent liver damage, but many American brands have up to 500mg. Many people experience kidney damage after taking Tylenol for long periods of time.

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Statins

Statins and blood thinners are often given hand in hand to prevent heart attacks and heart disease. In some cases, statins can actually harm the liver. Additionally, long-term users have reported memory loss and muscle pain. Finally, statins can slightly raise a patient’s risk of Type 2 Diabetes, especially in those who have a family history of the condition.

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Laxatives

Laxatives may be necessary every now and then, but constant daily use? That can be dangerous. Your body could get used to the drugs and become dependent on them.

Some older adults found themselves severely constipated and compacted because their laxatives no longer work, and they need something stronger to clear themselves out. The bowels eventually lose the inability to work properly, so it’s best to go natural, if possible.

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Adderall

We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of prescriptions handed out — a 40% increase between 2007 and 2011, resulting in 50 million prescriptions in 2011. In fact, about 10% of children are taking the drug these days. It’s an ADHD drug used to increase attention span.

Because of this, we’ve seen it get abused as a “smart drug” on school campuses everywhere as students attempt to cope with the rigorous and stressful school system we have. The real problem with Adderall is chemical. It increases serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain, the chemicals responsible for pleasure, reward, and motivation. In turn, the brain stops producing these chemicals. When you try to get off Adderall, your brain no longer functions how it should without its crutch.

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Sleeping Pills

Like other meds, using a sleeping medicine is alright short-term. However, if you use it long-term, you can build up a tolerance, and you’ll need a stronger dose. Quitting the med may seem impossible.

Even for those without diagnosed insomnia can find it difficult to sleep. Whether they are over-the-counter or prescription, sleeping meds are not deemed safe for long-term use.

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Blood Thinners

Blood thinners and anticoagulants, such as Warfarin, used in the long-term can be problematic, to say the least. They are often prescribed for long-term use to protect people against heart-attacks by thinning the blood, allowing it to flow more freely.

One of the more serious, and surprisingly simple, problems that come from this is how easy it is to bleed. Because your blood becomes thin, it becomes difficult for your blood to clot, meaning the little cuts that you could get while shaving or opening the mail may bleed far more than they should.

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Oral Decongestants

Oral decongestants are also bad long-term. Pseudoephedrine by mouth long-term can lead to problems including seizures, hallucinations, headaches, and insomnia.

Lingering congestion may also be a sign of a more significant issue, which needs to be taken care of quickly or else it can cause other problems. Never take pseudoephedrine longer than seven days unless otherwise directed by a doctor. 

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SSRIs

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are becoming more and more common, but studies are beginning to show that they’re dangerous long-term. People who do use them long-term can find it immensely challenging to stop.

They go into withdrawal effects that were far worse than their depression had ever been. They report feeling dry mouth, bizarre thoughts, and a sense of detachment from reality. 

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Albuterol

Albuterol may save someone during an asthma attack, but the danger comes when people use it more and more to control their asthma. Using it long-term can begin to cause insomnia, agitation, and even upper respiratory effects. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for long-term albuterol users to get clogged noses, throats, and upper airways. 

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Opiates

The opiate crisis has brought attention to the dangers of long-term use of narcotics. No matter your willpower strength, your body becomes dependent on the drug. The pain that required the prescription can become worse due to the medication. Additionally, it can cause liver damage and constipation. The brain could also become damaged due to hypoxia.