Most visits to the doctor culminate in prescriptions being doled out by them for various ailments their patients complain about. Though advising medicines portrays the advanced nature of medical facilities in the United States, the fear of abuse and overdose of such medicines highlights the darker side.
The “Talk About Your Medicines Month” observed in October, sponsored by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), focuses on the growing safety issue of recommending medications for most disorders. The use of more than one medications by a single person or abuse of unused or leftover medications by those who were not recommended the same results in aggravated risks of growing dependence on them.
The theme, this year, revolves around the promotion of safe and appropriate medicine use by initiating better medicine communication. This becomes more important as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that nearly 48 million people aged 12 years and above have used prescription drugs for non-medicinal purposes in their lifetime.
The prescription drug abuse that has besieged a major part of the American population is mainly attributed to growing opioid dependence which affects nearly 5 million people in the U.S., causing nearly 17,000 deaths every year, as per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Researchers say that the root of the problem also lies in over-prescription which means prescription of drugs beyond necessity. As per a recent study, more than half of the opioids recommended to patients following tooth extraction had been left unused.
The findings, published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence in September 2016, accentuated the danger posed by surplus opioids as prior studies have indicated opioid dependents abusing leftover prescription opioids that had been initially recommended for their family members.
The additional fear of patients abusing leftover opioids up to six months after surgery was reiterated in the study titled “Trends and predictors of opioid use after total knee and total hip arthroplasty” where scientists pointed out how patients continued to consume opioids for a long time after their hip joint surgery. The study published online in the journal Pain in June 2016 indicated persistent opioid use by patients even when not required, thus, necessitating the urgent need to educate doctors about the length of the period for which prescription painkillers need to be prescribed.
As prescription painkillers are often exchanged and shared among members of a group, the fear of teenagers getting hooked to them also rises. Researchers from the University of Michigan in another study published online in the journal Pain in June 2016 had elucidated how teenagers misusing pain medications are at a greater likelihood of abusing drugs as adults.
The fear of abuse of prescription painkillers is not limited to teenagers. A study titled “Medication sharing, storage, and disposal practice among U.S. adults with recent opioid medication use,” published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in June 2016 revealed how nearly six in 10 adults recommended painkillers have leftover pills.
Opioids are prescribed to patients to relieve them from pain. Over a period, people continue to use the medications only for additional relief which only aggravates the risk of opioid addiction. If you or your loved one is addicted and is looking for help, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for more information on drug addiction rehabilitation centers available in your vicinity. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for further advice on addiction treatment centers in the U.S.