It is no secret that the opiate epidemic is fueled by a lack of education and over-prescribing of painkillers. Patients do not do their own research the majority of time when they are prescribed a medication. They let their doctor tell them what will help with their symptoms and why they should take it. Doctors are highly respected in the United States and we trust that they put our best interests in mind.
Doctors and Medical professionals are boasting about the fact that prescription painkiller abuse is down for the first time since 1999. This is true and very deceiving at the same time. Yes the people who became addicted to prescription painkillers no longer abuse them because the majority of addicts can no longer afford to keep up their prescription pill habit. Many opiate addicts have made the switch from opiate based painkillers to heroin. When looking at painkiller use statistics, they show that their use is declining, but the root of the evil has already left its mark.
The truth is that prescription painkillers led to more than 92,200 overdoses being treated in emergency rooms around the country in one year. When hospitals have to see that many patients, many of which who do not have health insurance, the hospital is stuck with the bill. This puts a huge strain on hospitals, their finances, and the care they are able to give.
Overdoses involving prescribed painkillers have become a leading cause of death in the U.S. - astonishingly overtaking traffic and firearm accidents. These figures are a shocking depiction of our country's relationship with the drugs which were highlighted in a report published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.
People do not realize that if they have substantial pain from a serious ailment, they will most likely be prescribed an opiate painkiller to help with their pain. These powerful narcotics used to be illegal in many states for treating any ailment other than cancer related pain. Since the late 90's America has been popping prescription painkillers non-stop. Hydrocodone is now the number prescribed medication in the United States and it does not seem to be slowing down.
One of the issues for doctors is that our society has been taught that they will receive a prescription medication when they visit their doctor. If a patient is seen by a doctor and does not receive a medication, they automatically feel as though they were not treated properly. People have to keep in mind that being treated does not necessarily mean being prescribed a medication. I have found that the best doctors try to do as little prescribing as possible and try to change one's lifestyle before putting someone on a potentially addictive medication.