Big pharma and medical professionals
When your business is drugs it is easy to focus solely on the bottom line. Corporate social responsibility is extremely important. A study by www.drugfree.org found that 90% of prescription drug addictions start in teenage years. www.drugabuse.gov puts the number of prescription drug addicts in 2010 at 8.76 Million. 52 Million Americans have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime. The numbers are staggering; 3 in 20 Americans have used prescription drugs non-medically. Look around you, count the next 20 people you see; 3 of them have used prescription drugs non medically.
At least one in 50 Americans are either addicted or have been addicted to prescription drugs in their lifetime.
The RX Addict deserves better
The above figures imply that medical professionals and pharma are facilitating addiction. I would like to make a recommendation to help alleviate the problem. Logically many addictions start through use of the drugs; often these drugs are prescribed due to an actual need. The problem rises when people are meant to stop using them but continue to do so.
It is no secret that opioids are addictive; medical professionals and pharma companies are both aware of this. Claiming ignorance is not plausible. Other prescription drugs are also addictive and medical professionals are aware of this. Medical aftercare is a priority to ensure that people do not spiral deep into addiction. The longer the drugs are used the more acute the addiction becomes.
The problem: Prolonged use of certain prescription drugs leads to addiction.
The solution: Ensuring that addiction is caught early and curbing prolonged use of addictive drugs.
My doctor is my drug dealer
If a doctor is treating us for a condition we generally always get follow ups. The medications are prescribed for a period and the intention is that we stop using them once the ailment goes away. The truth is; many don’t; doctors know this.
Blood tests, urine tests and a whole spectrum of tests are part of the healing process. I would argue that should an individual be prescribed addictive drugs; a follow up test 30 days after the end of the prescription period should be required by law.
There could be some guidelines set; for example one week of use may not require such a test. A month’s use however would definitely require such after care.
Screening prior to prescribing.
A further measure I would introduce prior to prescribing addictive medications would be screening prior to providing a prescription. If an individual with no previous medical history of addictive prescription medication is to be prescribed an addictive substance, a simple urine test should be performed to ensure that the individual is not actually looking to score.
Many individuals get addicted due to using other people’s drugs; being told by a friend how awesome the high of a prescription drug is or their own research. Many of these eventually find they need to get their own supply; it is important to ensure that this is avoided.
Responsibility to refer patient to rehab and addiction centers
If a doctor or medical professional discovers that their patient is addicted to a substance it is imperative that they assist their client. Not offering treatment could be construed as enabling and negligence. The primary care physician and other medical professionals that keep prescribing should be held liable for enabling addiction and negligence.
I would argue fiercely that a patient should be aware of the risks of using addictive prescription drugs before they are prescribed. All the above is open for discussion; the following proposal should not be!
If a patient is to be prescribed addictive prescription drugs; no matter how necessary to their treatment. The patient must read and sign a short yet informative document explaining the risks; offering post-use assistance and guidance. Furthermore the medical professional prescribing the drug must explain the risks involved especially to patients that may be illiterate.
Correct labeling and warnings
Addictive prescription drugs should be labeled as such. In the same way that many of our European counterparts have forced tobacco companies to place warnings on their packaging; the same should go for highly addictive medication.
A warning indicating that the product is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE and a URL to a site with detailed information should be created to ensure users of the prescription drugs are fully aware of the risks.
Prescription drug rant now over; would love your opinion in the comments section below.