Opioids are being prescribed at record levels. The rate of abuse from opiate based painkillers has been increasing drastically over the past 10 years. The problem is that these medications are being prescribed for ailments that can possibly be treated by other means. Health care professionals are prescribing these dangerous and addictive medications too easily and many times without researching other options first. The newest ailment on the list to be prescribed opiates is Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS.
Restless Leg Syndrome is defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine as, “A disorder in which there is an urge or need to move the legs to stop unpleasant sensations". It most often occurs in middle-aged and older adults who claim to have stressful lives. It may occur more often in patients with diabetes, iron deficiency, and Parkinson's disease.
In a new placebo-controlled study, prolonged-release opioid treatment with an oxycodone-naloxone combination produced relief of symptoms in patients with severe restless legs syndrome. This new study is controversial because of the use of powerful medications for a syndrome that some medical professionals believe was "made up" by pharmaceutical companies to sell more drugs.
I am not saying that restless legs syndrome is not real. In my opinion, I feel using a powerful and addictive medication such as opiates to treat RLS is not a good idea. For example if you cut yourself, or get a bruise you will most likely be in some pain. Prescribing a powerful opiate narcotic to treat the bruise or cut will most likely help ease the pain, but treating it with an opiate is an overkill. That's how many professionals feel about prescribing an opioid for a common ache or pain.
Being a recovered addict myself, I know what it's like to be addicted. I know how strong and powerful opiate addiction can be first hand and I think it is ridiculous to give someone an addictive substance unless 100% neccessary. How do we even know that opioids are the best way to treat a syndrome that hasn't been properly studied? Unfortunately I see this as another way for big pharmaceutical companies to sell more opioids to the public and get them hooked on these medications.
The opioid pharmaceutical market is a billion dollar industry. Their job is to make as much money as possible for their shareholders, and owners of the company. From a business standpoint, these companies are looking to be as profitable as possible and are looking for new ways to sell more prescriptions. I think it's important for medical professionals and the health care industry to look at alternatives and do more research on RLS. Also, it is important to realize that doctors can not tell if someone is suffering from restless legs syndrome, as there is no test. This just becomes another excuse for addicts to get their hands on powerful narcotics legally. The whole thought of this makes me worry. I know how dangerous an opiate addiction could be, and I'd hate to see more people fall into the vicious cycle of addiction.