It has now become clear, through recent research, that there is a dramatic increase in opioid prescriptions and, along with it, an equally dramatic increase in addiction to prescribed opioids. But it doesn’t stop there. Once these people run out of their prescriptions they turn to buying opioids on the street. Then, when they do some comparison shopping, they end up buying more available, more affordable heroin. So, it is a fact that doctor’s prescribing opioids is a part of what’s driving the increase in heroin addiction. So, who do we hold accountable? Is it pharmaceutical companies developing and aggressively marketing opioid pain meds that are highly addictive? Is it doctors who prescribe them like they’re handing out jelly beans? Do doctors know they are behind the recent epidemic of addiction to heroin?
Well, business is business to many people. Only a small percentage of people who are prescribed opioids become addicted. Right?
It is estimated that 2.1 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from disorders from, or addiction to prescribed opioids. Another half a million suffer from an addiction to heroin. The number of unintentional deaths from prescribed pain relievers has soared in recent years, quadrupling since 2000.
Do we need some form of legislation on this?
Well, let’s deal with reality. Legislators have to run for office and their campaigns are funded, in part, by pharmaceutical companies. So, meaningful legislation is probably not going to be the answer.
There is one recent case of a doctor who was very obviously over prescribing opioids who was prosecuted and sent to jail. Definitely more of that needs to happen. But doctor’s are probably not going to stop prescribing opioids, although some may become more cautious about it.
As usual, the consumer needs to be aware and to watch out for themselves and loved ones. IF you, or a loved one, have an opioid prescribed for an injury or following a medical procedure, see if there’s something else you could have instead. An analgesic that isn’t addictive. If not, use the opioid medication as prescribed, but try and use it less and less over time. Also look for other pain management therapies that couple alleviate some or all of the pain. Acupuncture, or another holistic therapy, for example.
If you, or your loved one do end up addicted, get treatment as soon as possible. The longer you wait the worse it will be. If you suspect a loved one is hiding an addiction, act on it rather than waiting to see. There’s way too much to risk. We are literally talking life or death in many cases.