Meloxicam

Categorized as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), meloxicam is used to manage pain, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness due to rheumatic diseases, such as arthritis.
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Common Trade Names: Mobic, Vivlodex, Anjeso

Other Names: QMIIZ ODT, 4-hydroxy-2-methyl-N-(5-methyl-1,3-thiazol-2-yl)-1,1-dioxo-1λ6,2-benzothiazine-3-carboxamide

The drug does not cure the condition that causes these symptoms; what meloxicam does is it makes the symptoms more manageable, and it only works for as long as the patient is using the drug. Like other NSAIDs, using meloxicam can increase a person’s risk for cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack. As such, this prescription pain medication is only recommended to be used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time.

In addition to its application in human medicine, meloxicam is also widely utilized in veterinary medicine. The drug is used to manage osteoarthritis and post-surgical pain among common companion animals, but there have been instances where meloxicam was utilized in the treatment of cattle and exotic animals.

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Many medical practitioners incorporate meloxicam into their patients’ chronic or severe pain management program as an alternative to opioid painkillers, which are noted for being highly addictive. However, while taking meloxicam does not result in the same high as using narcotics or opioids, it’s still possible to use this NSAID in an unhealthy manner. If you or anyone in your family is using meloxicam, it’s a good idea to take note of the signs and symptoms of substance use disorder. This way, you can readily identify when meloxicam is being used in a way that will harm the user and find the appropriate help in treating their dependence on the drug.

Brief History of Meloxicam

Meloxicam is a fairly recent breakthrough. The drug was developed by the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim and patented in 1977, though it has generic forms that are available in the market to this day. In the United States, the medication was approved for medical use at the turn of the millennium. In just two decades, the number of meloxicam users has grown to 22 million, turning it into one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the country.

In part, the growing popularity of meloxicam among medical practitioners and their patients stem from the need to find an alternative to opioid medication for the management of severe or chronic pain. Opioid painkillers can be easily misused, and this can lead to fatal consequences. In 2019 alone, the opioid epidemic claimed the lives of more than 70,000 individuals, and more than 10 million people in the US have admitted to misusing prescription opioids in the same year. A highly effective painkiller, meloxicam is seen as one of the safer substitutes to  opioid medication, as it presents less severe physical or psychological dependence issues among patients. However, it should be noted that using meloxicam presents its own set of risks, such as overdosing, internal bleeding, and substance use disorder.

How Does Meloxicam Work in the Human Body?

Meloxicam works by blocking cyclooxygenase (COX), the enzyme that’s responsible for converting free essential fatty acids to prostanoids. Prostanoids, on the other hand, refer to a group of signaling molecules that are responsible for communicating inflammatory and anaphylactic reactions, the narrowing of the blood vessels, and the resolution of inflammations. By blocking COX, meloxicam provides relief for pain and inflammation. In comparison, other NSAIDs like aspirin work by inhibiting the production of COX.

More potent than other NSAIDs, meloxicam can only be legally obtained with a prescription.

How is Meloxicam Taken?

Meloxicam comes in tablet, disintegrating tablet, suspension, capsule, and injectable forms. It’s a prescription medication that’s used to manage pain and inflammation caused by various conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, and fibromyalgia. The drug can be consumed orally or it can be injected into a vein. Due to the risks that come with using the drug, most patients are recommended to use the lowest possible dose of meloxicam needed to control the symptoms of their condition.

Its tablet or capsule form is usually taken orally once daily with a full glass of water. The patient is often advised not to lie down within 10 minutes of taking meloxicam. If the patient is taking the disintegrating tablet, the medication should be handled with dry hands, placed on the tongue right away, and allowed to dissolve. This form of the medication can be taken without liquid. Suspension meloxicam, on the other hand, should be shaken vigorously prior to use. Patients must use a special spoon to properly measure the volume of medication that they have been prescribed.

It takes about two weeks of regular use to feel the full benefits of the drug if it’s taken orally. Patients are often advised to take meloxicam at the same time every day and to not switch between different forms of the medication.

Injectable meloxicam is often used by patients who are recovering from surgery and are experiencing moderate to severe pain. In this form, meloxicam offers short-term relief from pain, fever, and inflammation.

What Are the Immediate and Long-Term Effects of Meloxicam Abuse?

While deemed as a safer alternative to opioid painkillers, meloxicam can still be misused. It’s important to take the medication as directed by the doctor. Even after doing so, the patient may still experience these common immediate side effects:

  • Rise in blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Intense abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

If the patient experiences the following side effects after taking meloxicam, it is recommended that they get in touch with their physician right away:

  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Mood or mental changes (confusion or nervousness, for example)
  • Persistent or severe headache
  • Unexplained stiffness in the neck
  • Signs of kidney issues (change in amount of urine, for example)
  • Symptoms of heart failure (visible water retention, unusual weight gain, unexplained tiredness)

On rare occasions, meloxicam can also cause liver disease and serious allergic reactions.

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Overdosing on meloxicam can lead to the following symptoms, among others:

  • Drowsiness and lack of energy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Black or bloody stools
  • Bloody or coffee grounds-looking vomit
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma

Using the medication can also increase a patient’s risk for experiencing cardiovascular thrombotic events, gastrointestinal bleeding and ulceration or perforation, hypertension, and renal toxicity.

Signs of Meloxicam Use Disorder                                    

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) indicates 11 signs that a person is struggling with substance use disorder. Here are some of the warning signs that a person may have formed an unhealthy dependence on the painkiller meloxicam:

  • When a person consumes higher doses of meloxicam or for longer than prescribed by their physician, which sometimes happens if they feel that their pain is not being managed well.
  • When a person tries or expresses the wish to stop using meloxicam but is unable to do so.
  • When a person spends a lot of time, effort, and resources to get and use meloxicam, such as by getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors and pharmacies.
  • When a person develops craving for the substance.
  • When continuing to use meloxicam makes it difficult for a person to fulfill their obligations at home, school, work, or community.
  • When taking the medication starts to cause strains in a person’s relationships.
  • When obtaining and using the medication starts to take precedence over hobbies, activities, and interests that are important to the person.
  • When the continued use of meloxicam puts a person at high risk of experiencing the drug’s more dangerous side effects.
  • When using meloxicam aggravates physical or psychological conditions that a person might have, like kidney disorders or gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • When a person develops tolerance and requires stronger doses of meloxicam to relieve the same level of pain and inflammation that they are experiencing.
  • When a person experiences withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing the use of the drug.

Some people misuse meloxicam while experimenting or in an attempt to get a high from the substance, while others develop an unhealthy relationship with the medication because they feel that their symptoms are not being sufficiently addressed. It should be noted that this activity can pose significant risks to one’s health and well-being. If you or a loved one is showing signs of meloxicam use disorder, get help immediately.

 Rehab and Treatment for Meloxicam Use Disorder

In case of meloxicam overdose, it’s important to get the patient the immediate medical assistance that they require. Afterward, they can undergo rehabilitation programs that will allow them to develop a healthier relationship with the drug. The good news is that there are many treatment facilities and professionals who can offer expert support, guidance, and assistance to patients who have misused meloxicam in the past.

A suitable rehabilitation facility offers a recovering patient the time, space, and supportive environment they need in order to acquire and develop tools to manage their substance use disorder. These facilities may offer inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as individual and group sessions with counselors and therapists. The patient and their family members can attend these sessions to address the problems that contributed to and stemmed from substance use disorder. At the same time, these treatment programs can also help the patient manage their pain symptoms while reducing the risk of developing a harmful relationship with the drug that they are taking.

Get the Help You Need

Better Addiction Care offers an updated network of rehabilitation centers, medical facilities, and support groups that provide personalized treatment programs for meloxicam use disorder. Explore our directory today and find a local treatment center that can help you and your loved ones heal from substance use disorder.

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