A rise in prescription drug abuse in the United States has increased the rate of injury and overdose death. Painkillers are responsible for this rise in injury and death. These synthetic opiates provide patients with a path towards addiction. Prescription painkillers are narcotics that have a high potential for abuse. They are also habit, tolerance and addiction forming drugs. Most of these medications, if not all, are intended to be used for a short period of time. For example, someone who suffers an injury and requires surgery or rehab may be prescribed painkillers. They are to use those, as recommended, for a short period of time to provide some comfort from their pain. Others may be prescribed this type of medication to help them deal with lingering, chronic pain; such as back pain. In the first case, physicians should be alerted and act when their patient requires more of their medication, finishes the prescription early or shows any other signs of abuse. In the second case, the physician should work to create an alternative to the prescription drugs because the long term consumption of drugs in general is hazardous to the patient’s health. For these two simplistic reasons primary care physicians are failing addicts.
Nationwide Problem with Addiction and Prescription Drugs
Some of the most recent studies indicate that nearly 40 million Americans can be classified as addicts. What is even more frightening is that twice as many abuse tobacco, alcohol, drugs and prescription medications. Less than ten percent of addicts in the country get the treatment that they require for their addiction. Latest definitions of addiction state that it is a chronic, recurring brain disorder(some use the term disease) that is characterized by chronic drug searching and consuming; even when the danger and destruction is understood by the individual abusing the drugs. Meanwhile, most Americans with chronic disorders/disease receive regular treatment. Research has shown that a simple questionnaire regarding alcohol consumption, requiring at least two tests, can detect substance abuse and addiction. Quick primary care physician questions can help to reduce the rising tide of substance abuse and addiction. The frequency with which Americans seek regular treatment for everyday ailments could, if these questions/screenings were conducted, help to reduce the amount of substance abuse issues in the United States.
Lack of Adequate Training
One of the main reasons that primary care physicians are failing addicts today is due to a lack of adequate training. The problem and concept of addiction is not a topic that physicians must scrutinize over during their training. Due to this fact most physicians are not skill enough to detect the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and addiction. The best way to combat substance abuse and addiction is to prevent it. Detecting a problem with substance abuse can increase the chances of a potential addict getting help and addressing the issue. Before physicians no it, their patient is addicted to drugs, alcohol or the prescription medications that they recommended. To make the situation worse, most physicians are unaware of what treatment options are available to their patients. Some are unfamiliar with how these facilities work or do not understand the twelve step process of recovery.
Irresponsible Prescribing Practices
Prescription drugs are the leading cause of addiction in the United States today. Big pharmaceutical companies advertise constantly and promise comfort and relief from pain. Primary care physicians provide these medications to patients, so they provide some solace to their patients. The problem with this practice is that it can become irresponsible. Some physicians even prescribe drugs to make profit for themselves. The government is quickly beginning to crack down on this practice. Addicts can be difficult to deal with and are impressively crafty. Chronic pain should be treated with long term painkiller prescriptions because the adverse effects of these drugs can lead to abuse and addiction. Alternative methods of treatment should be utilized.
Physicians must be more vigilant in monitoring their patients’ prescriptions. They must also become familiar with the signs and symptoms of substance abuse. Local treatment centers and support groups should work with primary care physicians to provide a partnership whose goal is to reduce substance abuse and addiction. Patients should only take their medications as prescribed, monitor the amount they have and seek alternative methods to chronic pain.