Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The writing on the wall could not be any clearer when it comes to the dangers of prescription narcotics. Decades before the United States began its war on terror, it had long been at battle against drugs since Nixon declared war on them back in the seventies. The war on drugs wages on, but today we are not fighting Cocaine cowboys or Colombian and Cuban drug lords so much, the enemy today is pharmaceutical companies, pain management doctors, and pharmacies on nearly every corner of your typical American city. How does a government go about attacking an entire medical institution built, an organization on their toes for fear of malpractice law suits and pharmaceutical companies' lobbyist working hard to continue to have the ability to produce as much medication as possible? The answer may be in finding alternatives to prescription opiates until every option is exhausted. Doctors may be forced to prescribe if a patient claims to be experiencing pain, but no one can fault a doctor for trying alternative forms of pain management before resorting to prescribing addictive and potential fatal prescription opioids.
An estimated 27,500 people died in 2007 from unintentional drug overdoses, many of them involving prescription opioids, according to a report prepared by doctors affiliated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and Duke University Medical Center. In the same report they urged doctors to look for alternative pain management options before prescribing opioid medications; they also noted that in 2007 accidental deaths due to prescription opioid painkillers were the cause of more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
Pain management doctors need to be trained extensively in identifying when mental illness and substance abuse problems are present. As it is right now, just about anyone can walk into a doctor's office and walk out with whatever they want and then go down the street to the next doctor. The report suggests that doctors first try non-narcotic medications, physical therapy, psychotherapy, and exercise. If, and only if, those methods fail should a doctor look towards opiates as the solution. Peoples' lives are in doctors' hands, the pills they prescribe have the power to ruin lives and take lives, the less prescribing done - the better.