The amount of opiate painkillers being prescribed per year is at an all time high. As the number of people being prescribed opiates climbs, studies show that the identification and treatment of pain has failed to improve. In other words, more opiates are being prescribed, yet there is no evidence to show the reduction of the ailments that are causing the pain in the first place.
Opioid based painkillers need to be used for those in chronic pain, rather than every day aches and pains. More Doctors are writing prescriptions for painkillers, yet there is a lack of evidence that the increase in prescriptions is helping to fix the underlying reasons people are in pain. Painkillers basically block the pain, but they don't fix the underlying problem that causes the pain which should be a major concern in the medical field.
With the abuse of opiates at epidemic levels and patients becoming addicted at alarming rates, there needs to be more research done to find new and alternative ways to treat the underlying issues that are causing the pain.
This should be a major concern that doctors and medical professionals should be focusing on. Now let me make this clear, I know how amazing these medications are for those who desperately need them. There are a lot of people in this world who have diseases, ailments, and horrible pain that make their lives impossible to live without opiate painkillers. The problem is that opiates are being prescribed at alarming rates for those with less than chronic pain.
The amount of people who actually need these medications and those who are prescribed them (who don't actually need them), is something we may never have concrete numbers on. With opiate use at epidemic levels, it is obvious that far more people are getting their hands on these medications than necessary.
If you speak with patients who use their medication for their legit chronic pain, most have never gotten "high" off of them. They do not even understand why people would abuse them. This is because those in chronic pain who are taking their prescription as prescribed are taking just enough medication to reduce the pain. They are not taking the medication after the pain or injury subsides and are not trying to get the euphoric feeling from them. They are taking the medication to help ease their pain they are going through.
Along the same lines are the length that doctors write prescriptions for. Many doctors are quick to write a 30 day prescription without looking at the pain the individual may have. You may have gotten a root canal done or pulled a muscle in your back and were prescribed hydrocodone (A common opiate painkiller). Many times the length of the prescription is for 15 or 30 days. I believe that doctors should write prescriptions for less amounts of time. If someone is in pain after 2 or 3 days, they should need to be reexamined by their physicial to make sure there are no underlying problems to the pain they are experiencing. Giving the patient only enough medication for the pain prescribed can greatly reduce the amount of prescription painkillers on the street. Standard prescription lengths need to be taken into consideration. Having access to painkillers for longer than needed can easily begin the process of opiate abuse.
Scientists, researchers, and doctors need to sit down and critique the way opioid painkillers are prescribed. Limiting the amount of pills prescribed per procedure and looking at alternative treatments will definitely help to decrease the abuse. With better improvements on the way doctors treat pain, writing out smaller prescriptions, and trying alternative treatments rather than painkillers, the less chances for those to get addicted.