In 2011, a group of doctors pleaded on Capitol Hill that we do something to stop prescription drug abuse. We have seen this plea before, resulting in crackdowns on pharmacies and doctors prescribing these pain medication, but these doctors have a different answer. They propose that all doctors get real training in prescribing addictive drugs, recognizing signs of addiction, and identifying problematic patterns of use.
Most physicians receive little to no training regarding substance abuse or the use of controlled substances that have the potential for addiction. Although these medications are useful in some cases, better education will help doctors to recognize drug-seeking behavior and signs of addiction. Then, these doctors can be better equipped to diagnose and refer these patients to treatment the same way they would someone with high blood pressure. This could also help to defeat the stigma associated with addiction.
In this article, a recovering addict recounts a story of a doctor offering him Xanex for his anxiety. The man reminded the doctor that he was in recovery, and the doctor replied that, “one pill isn’t going to send you back to the Garden of Eden.” Thankfully, the recovering addict had a different opinion and he declined the prescription and changed doctors. This is just one example of a doctor who could benefit from this proposed drug abuse training.
We see cases of doctors prescribing addictive drugs to patients that re recovering addicts, or have a history with substance abuse. Look at Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. As long as physicians do not understand addiction, or lack the tools to intervene when a patient is in trouble, this problem will inevitably continue.