Opiates are regularly prescribed to patients by doctors to relieve post-surgery pain. Cancer patients are also prescribed opiates to manage the pain they have to endure when undergoing treatments. Opiates are used as painkillers and are primarily meant for short-term use only. Some of the types of opiates that are prescribed for pain include:
Unfortunately, even with professional guidelines, people can become addicted to opiates, and the results can be just as damaging as getting addicted to illegal drugs. People who abuse prescription drugs are at risk of overdose, which can be fatal, particularly when mixed with alcohol or used in conjunction with other drugs. This is why it’s scary to find out that sales of opiates have increased by three hundred percent since 1999.
Why Opiate Use Is So Common
Patients who have to deal with chronic pain often use opiates as a way of managing their pain. While this is legal and a commonly accepted way of helping patients cope with pain, how much drugs should be prescribed and for how long becomes the areas of dispute. It’s believed that there isn’t enough education available to doctors to help them gauge what is appropriate to prescribe to patients, without getting them addicted to opiates.
Women have also been identified as a group at particular high risk of becoming addicted to opiates. They are believed to form addictions to painkillers faster, and the number of women dying from overdosing on painkillers has dramatically risen since 1999 also. It’s also particularly important that women become vigilant against abusing prescription drugs, because it can adversely affect pregnant women if they develop an addiction.
“Doctor-Shopping” May Also Be A Growing Problem
Another reason that the abuse of opiates may have risen is also the problem of doctor shopping. A person who becomes addicted to opiates is willing to do anything to get their fix, and that includes shopping for another doctor when the current one refuses to prescribe more painkillers. What this inevitably results in is the patient developing a dependency on prescription drugs that goes beyond just using them temporarily for chronic pain.
Cracking Down On Prescription Drug Abuse
As a result of the alarming statistics regarding the scary truth of opiate usage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken action. They are particularly concerned between the correlation of the rise of opiate drug sales and the rise of overdoses via prescription drugs. They want to bring attention to the problem of the rising use of opiates and the dangerous consequences that result. Hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits happen every year because of opiate abuse and that amount of fatalities have tripled since the early 1990s.
The CDC wants to enact measures to lower the rates of opiate overdoses. They want to start monitoring programs that will track the prescription of painkillers to patients in a database. They also want healthcare professionals to follow evidence-based guidelines about dispensing prescription drugs and monitoring patients for signs of troubles. They also want people with substance abuse problems to have more access to professional treatment.
The growth of the usage of opiates has become so high, that it has even been labeled an epidemic. Although painkillers can be of great benefit to cancer patients or patients who have undergone a painful surgery, their prescription has to be carefully monitored, because addiction and abuse can also have dangerous and potentially fatal consequences. More people than ever are overdosing on opiates, and the CDC wants to raise awareness about the growing problem. They hope by doing this, the amount of overdoses and fatalities that are linked to painkillers will be greatly lowered.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.