Acetaminophen, the scientific name for the active ingredient in Tylenol, can be found over the counter and in behind the counter prescriptions. Though Tylenol is considered one of the safest painkillers in America, it is one of the main ingredients in what has become a deadly painkiller in America: prescription opiates. Acetaminophen can be found in Oxycontin and other well known narcotic prescription painkillers.
Take a Tylenol is an oft-offered suggestion to cure the average ache and pain in America, particularly among sober individuals. Due to the strong association with addictive prescription painkillers, Tylenol is not as often suggested for aches and pains for men in recovery as much as Motrin, or ibuprofen. New research offers another reason why Tylenol may not be for the recovering man.
Ohio State University researchers discovered that Acetaminophen inhibits our ability to have empathy for others. Empathy is a necessary human quality for men in recovery- one they need to have shown to them and one they need to show others. The ability to be empathetic is the ability to put oneself in someone else’s place. For men who are recovering from active addiction specifically, cultivating empathy is considered a remedy for ego- one of addiction’s greatest allies. Rather than operate out of self-centered thinking based in ego or false ego, empathy helps men in recovery operate out of a true concern and connection to others.
Eighty college students were split into two groups for the study. One group was administered 1,000mg of acetaminophen, which is the same as taking two Tylenol Extra Strength. The other group was given a placebo. Once the medication had metabolized, the groups read about eight different scenarios in which pain was being endured by people. On a scale of 1-5, participants rated the pain of the people in the scenario and guessed at how those people felt about the pain being experienced. According to the study, participants under the influence of acetaminophen consistently rated pain lower than the other group.
Addiction changes the way the brain operates in regards to consideration and consequence. Additionally, addiction changes the way the brain sees survival by making drugs and/or alcohol the ultimate method of survival. Living in survival mode is ultimately living for oneself. Through treatment, men heal the many neural pathways which have created problematic patterns. Acting out of empathy helps rebuild the brain to take others and others’ needs into consideration, weigh the consequences of one’s own actions on others, and feel in the process.
From the mountains to the coastline, the possibilities of living a life without limits are endless. At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California, we’re helping men recover their lives from addiction through innovative treatment designed to transform their lives inside and out. For information, call to speak with one of our graduates: (855) 202-2138