How to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse in the United States has been a huge problem for quite some time now. It is estimated that approximately 52 million Americans have taken prescription drugs recreationally. This is an alarming statistic, but it is not all surprising. Many doctors have been under intense scrutiny for prescribing controlled medication without providing a treatment program to help patients avoid addiction. This has led to “doctor shopping”, which is when a patient visits a number of various doctors’ offices to receive controlled medication. This medication usually comes in the form of painkillers and benzodiazepines or downers. Benzodiazepines are the medication used to prescribe patients with anxiety or high levels of stress; these prescriptions include Xanax and Valium, which are two of the more common tranquilizers prescribed.

Living in chronic pain

It is estimated that one out of every ten Americans lives with chronic pain. This can be from an existing injury, excessive wear and tear on the body, or from diseases. Unfortunately, there are many Americans who need medication to live comfortably. On the other hand, there are Americans who have become addicted and are taking advantage of doctors who are quick to prescribe opioids. Furthermore, just like illegal narcotics, selling prescription medication has turned into a lucrative business.

165,000 Died from Prescription Drug Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 165,000 people have died from prescription medication. This is not even including the amount of people who become addicted to pain medication and transition into using heroin. Because of this, the CDC is urging lawmakers to come up with a way to reduce the amount of painkillers prescribed to Americans.

Currently, getting access to controlled pain medication is not very difficult. While there are measures in place to monitor the amount of opioid prescriptions that doctors write, it is still quite relaxed. Under the guidance of the CDC, lawmakers are being urged to tighten restrictions. Doctors will be expected to explore alternative routes to help reduce pain, such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and injections. The CDC recommends reducing opioid prescriptions to people who have serious or terminal illnesses, such as cancer. Patients are also recommended to be monitored and drug tested by physicians. Furthermore, doctors are urged to keep databases of patients’ medication history, which is to be shared with other doctors across this country. All of these measures are proposed with the goal of identifying and flagging addicts or ”drug seekers”.

Doctors and researchers are still trying to decide how to approach patients who are legitimately suffering from injuries, or are recovering from major surgery. These people are often in a lot of pain while they are healing, and there are no set treatment guidelines. While prescription painkillers are excellent at helping them recover comfortably, they can often create a cycle of dependency and addiction. High school athletes suffering from sports-related injuries are at an even higher risk of developing an opioid dependency.

Helping Addicts overcome Dependency

Doctors are struggling to find a way to help addicts who do prescription drug abuse overcome their dependency. The drug naloxone is widely used, but it’s only helpful for counteracting an overdose. Historically, methadone has been used to help recovering addicts beat their opioid addictions. However, many doctors are reluctant to use methadone because it can also be habit forming. Doctors, researchers, and lawmakers must collaborate to find a pain management program that works best for patients. Still, one thing is to be expected: prescription pain medication will likely be more difficult to obtain.