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What are the risks of taking prescription painkillers to treat migraines?

Prescription painkillers are more powerful than their over-the-counter (OTC) equivalents, yet they rarely relieve severe migraine pain. In many cases, prescription analgesics just provide higher doses of standard nonprescription products, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. Some prescription analgesics contain barbiturates or opioids. Opioids, such as codeine and morphine, are sometimes indispensable medications, but they have a limited role in the treatment of headache. People who regularly use opioids run the risk of developing a tolerance to them, which means they need higher and higher doses to relieve the pain. They may also become dependent, meaning they develop withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.