Statins are a particular type of medication. Statin drugs block a certain enzyme produced by the liver. Blocking enzymes may help lower a person’s blood cholesterol to healthy and normal levels.
While people may have certain cholesterol levels and still be healthy, if their levels are too high, plaque may begin building in the walls of their arteries. This may lead to hardening of the arteries, a condition known as arteriosclerosis. The condition may cause angina (heart pain), strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks, along with a host of other issues.
If people lower their blood cholesterol, they may significantly reduce their risk of having heart issues. There are many statins, such as Lipitor (the brand name for the drug atorvastatin), along with lifestyle changes, that may help to reduce cholesterol levels. Some heart-healthy lifestyle changes include exercising and eating healthy. These are the best approaches for preventing heart-related issues.
When Do Doctors Prescribe Statins?
Many doctors prescribe statins. These medications, such as Lipitor, are prescribed when someone:
- Has a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, strokes, or heart disease.
- Has diabetes, since that may increase the risk of having heart disease.
- Has elevated LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol levels.
- Has had a higher risk for heart disease for more than ten years.
These are just some of the reasons why doctors prescribe statins. If you have become addicted to Lipitor or other statins, you may find help from a luxury drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.
Risks of Taking Lipitor
There are numerous risks that are associated with taking Lipitor and other statin drugs. Partly due to this fact, doctors do not prescribe the drug nearly as much as they did in the past. Some of the risks include the following:
- Kidney disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver damage
- Memory loss
Such symptoms are some of the more serious side effects that may occur when using Lipitor or other statins. There was even a lawsuit that claimed that this medication increased blood sugar levels to such high levels that certain people had an much higher risk of developing diabetes. In addition, consuming alcohol while using Lipitor increases the risk for side effects, especially kidney or liver damage.
Atorvastatin is the generic name for Lipitor. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer originally marketed this statin. 1996 was the first year that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved Lipitor. The brand name of this drug, Lipitor, is one of the top-selling prescriptions ever. The generic drug has been on the market for many years. Many people now take the same medication under different brand names or take the generic version.
Side Effects of Lipitor
When people take this medication as prescribed, it may be helpful for those who need to take it if they also make lifestyle changes when managing their cholesterol. Many times, they may manage their side effects by working with their doctor and pharmacist to change their dosage of Lipitor.
Using any prescription medication without a physician’s supervision may be dangerous. There is no exception when it comes to this medication. Even some of the most common side effects may be harmful if doctors do not monitor them appropriately. Some side effects to look for include the following:
- Throat pain
- Joint pain
- Digestive issues
- Nasal passageway inflammation
If such side effects do not end or if they become worse, see your doctor. You may also experience even more serious side effects, including the following:
- Memory issues
- Cognitive difficulties
- Muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle tenderness
- Swelling in the hands, ankles, or feet
- Weight gain
- Dark-colored urine
- Less frequent urination
- Increased thirst or hunger
- Dry mouth
- Vision changes, such as blurry vision
- Dry skin
- Stomach cramps or pains
The above side effects may be quite dangerous and may occur quickly. If you experience any of them, report them to your doctor right away. If you are self-medicating and taking prescriptions without medical supervision, that may be dangerous as well.
One of the most dangerous side effects when using this medication is myopathy. People with myopathy have muscle fibers that cannot function correctly. Some signs of this disease include the following:
- Muscle weakness
When muscle fibers break down, it may cause rhabdomyolysis. This is a condition where toxins from the muscles break down and are released in the blood, often causing kidney damage.
Health Risks of Abusing or Misusing Lipitor
Statin drugs such as Lipitor do not cause someone to feel relaxed or euphoric, like many other prescription medications that may lead to addictions. Some of those other drugs include prescription stimulants, benzodiazepines, and opioids.
But people may still misuse Lipitor and other statin drugs. This may happen if people take large doses of Lipitor, order it without having their own prescription, or steal it from family members or friends.
Prescription drug misuse means that people are using prescription medications in ways than the way doctors have prescribed them. People may misuse drugs for many reasons. One reason is to get high.
While statin medications such as Lipitor do not cause intoxication, people may still struggle with misusing and abusing Lipitor. They may steal the medication and take it because they have compulsive behaviors. People who do not have addictions but who do not know how dangerous the drug is may change their own dosing or change the length of time between their doses.
Since using this type of medication may produce cognitive changes, people who have a prescription to Lipitor msy forget how much or how often they should be using the medication. They may take it more or less than their doctors have prescribed. This type of misuse may produce dangerous side effects. Some of these side effects may even be fatal.
Demographics have identified groups of people who may have a higher risk of abusing Lipitor. One group at particularly high risk for abusing the drug is men sixty years old or older.
Men in this age group may misuse Lipitor to try to lower their cholesterol even further. The older a man is, the more likely he is to abuse this medication. In addition, if the man also has some form of chronic pain, he may be using prescription pain medications as well. Using multiple drugs at once may amplify the side effects of each drug or boost the user’s chances of misusing Lipitor and other statins.
Among the 185,636 people who reported experiencing side effects when taking Lipitor, 156 of them reported that they were dependent on the medication or that they abused the medication. Of the people who abused this medication:
- 44.74% were women
- 55.26% were men
- 30.94% were sixty years old or older
- 25.18% were fifty-five to fifty-nine years old
- 27.34% were forty to forty-nine years old
As you can see, the older people were, the more likely they were to abuse this medication.
Also, the older people were, the more likely they were to have higher cholesterol levels and thus use (and misuse) statin drugs such as Lipitor.
Those who have abused any drugs during their past also have a higher risk of abusing prescription medications. This is why it is always essential to tell your prescribing doctor if you have a history of prescription drug abuse or have abused other substances. Your doctor will work with you to manage various symptooms during treatment.
If you have a history of abusing alcohol, such as binge drinking or heavy drinking, you may already have some damage to your liver. If you take Lipitor, it may make your liver damage even worse.
It is important to always follow the orders of your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any medications. There are many law enforcement agencies and pharmacies that have drug take back programs. If you have prescriptions that you are no longer using, you should return them to one of these programs. This will lower the chance that you or someone else will abuse them. You should also know that those who are abusing Lipitor are increasing their chances of poisoning and overdose.
Overdose Risks of Lipitor
There is a possibility that you may overdose while taking Lipitor. Some overdose signs that you should be aware of when taking this medication include the following:
- Breathing issues (could be an allergic reaction)
- Jaundice (could indicate some level of liver damage)
- Passing out
- Darker urine or muscle pain (could indicate kidney damage and rhabdomyolysis)
If you notice any of these signs of an overdose, you should seek medical attention right away.
What Happens When You Mix Lipitor with Prescription or Illegal Drugs?
There are different types of Lipitor misuse and abuse. This includes mixing Lipitor with other types of substances, such as alcohol. Lipitor does not react well when mixed with other types of drugs such as:
- Antifungal drugs
- Certain antibiotics
- Rifampin (treatment for tuberculosis)
- Other types of cholesterol-reduction medications
- Hepatitis C medications
- HIV medications
- Oral birth control medications
- Colchicine (treatment for gout)
- Digoxin (treatment for heart arrythmia and blood pressure)
It is important not to mix Lipiotr with these medications. You may experience some dangerous side effects if you do so.
Withdrawing from Lipitor Safely
Many people who have prescriptions for Lipitor or other statins are not likely to quit taking the drugs. This is because people often need lifelong help to reduce their cholesterol levels. If you quit taking this drug immediately, you may be at risk of developing dangerous health conditions, including strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease.
While the above signs are not symptoms of withdrawal, they are signs of a disease you may already have. If you are using statins but do not have a higher risk for heart disease or high cholesterol, you are likely to experience side effects from withdrawing from the drugs.
After you start using Lipitor, if you stop taking it or reduce your dose, you should talk with your doctor and pharmacist first. In certain cases, withdrawing quickly without medical supervision may produce serious side effects. You may also need to make additional lifestyle changes to lower your cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about your options today or at your next appointment.
Support for Staying Sober
People who have had problems with prescription drug misuse or abuse in the past may show signs of relapsing if they misuse Lipitor. While statin medications do not cause euphoric feelings or intoxication, someone still may compulsively misuse this drug. If you want to stop using this medication, talk with your doctor. If you feel you have relapsed and have been misusing medications, there are treatment programs available to help you.
Lipitor may be a helpful medication. This does not mean that it cannot or will not be misused or abused. If you have a prior history of substance abuse, be sure to talk with your doctor about what you can do to address your substance abuse while managing your cholesterol levels.Your doctor may help keep you healthy and safe.