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Friday, November 19, 2010

Prescription Drug Use Fueled by Doctors

In the last decade we have seen, first hand, prescription drug use sky rocket out of control across America. There have always been prescription narcotics in one form or another, morphine has been around since the early 1800's and was first commercially sold by Merck in 1827. So why then are there so many people in the United States addicted to pharmaceuticals as of late? Basically, doctors are quick to prescribe narcotics for pain because legally they have to take their patient's word on how severe their pain is; this is the result of the Joint Commission's demand that health care providers better diagnose and treat chronic pain, in turn more drugs were developed and more drugs were prescribed. People who may have suffered from physical pain before, in a short amount of time, were now suffering from the pains of addiction.

It doesn't take long for dependency to strong narcotics like Oxycontin to develop, once addiction grabs hold of the mind it will tell you that you need the drug for your pain, even if the pain has gone away. Tolerance is the key to the equation, as one's tolerance goes up more drugs are consumed to achieve the feeling one once had from the drug. "To get the same effect you need more medication. So, they go back to the doctor still with pain," Family Medicine Chair Gregory Blake said. "They give them more medication to knock the pain out. They stay on that medication for a period of time, get tolerance to that, and keep moving up."

At a certain point, as dependency increases, patients begin to look for other doctors to supplement their supply to the narcotics; staying with just one doctor, asking repeatedly for increased doses will raise a red flag with the doctor and could cause problems, so patients begin to "doctor shop". "They'll frequently get pain pills from me. I think I'm doing it just right," Blake explained. "They go to another doctor who doesn't know about my giving them pain medicines. They give them pain medicines and it's just a vicious cycle." Prescription narcotics have become an epidemic, there are too many drugs out and being created every day to even keep up with them all; doctors move too quickly to treat pain without doing a history on their patient, so it is fair to say that doctors definitely have a hand in dependencies developing. Parents and doctors need to be hyper-vigilante to keep their teenagers and young adults from going down the path of addiction.

USA Today

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