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08 June
Pill to kill - Part 1: Overprescribing painkillers creates a vicious cycle of addiction
By APAH Team

Pill to kill – Part 1: Overprescribing painkillers creates a vicious cycle of addiction

Overtaking both car crashes and shooting incidents, deaths due to drug overdose has become a matter of concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than six out of ten drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers, which are popularly known as opioid or narcotic pain relievers. Being highly addictive, prescription painkillers are highly misused, especially in the United States.

Prescription painkillers have caused an epidemic in the U.S. with about 91 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose, according to the CDC. Moreover, amount of prescription medicines that have been sold in the country quadrupled since 1999. As such, the threat of overprescribing painkillers has been gradually increasing in all groups, particularly among youngsters, women and war veterans. In 2008, around 11 percent of service members were misusing prescription drugs, which had been steadily rising with time, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

A 2016 study done by the Johns Hopkins University found that 50 percent of people who were prescribed opioids store the leftover pills for future use. This clearly states that physicians prescribe more opioids than needed by the patients. Study lead Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, an assistant scientist in the department of health policy and management at the Bloomberg School said, “These painkillers are much riskier than has been understood and the volume of prescribing and use has contributed to an opioid epidemic in this country.”

Overprescribing painkillers need to be restrained to avoid misuse

Overprescribing painkillers by physicians have been a growing problem since 1999. The tendency of the general practitioners to prescribe painkillers even for the mildest pain has spiked the problem of opioid abuse in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlighted that around 650,000 prescriptions are given to patients on an average day in the U.S. In fact, more than 240 million prescriptions were prescribed by doctors recommending intake of opioids in 2014.

As a result, most of the patients end up with extra pills unaware of the rules and regulations pertaining to safe storage and disposal of prescription drugs. As most of the users often fail to keep such leftover pills away from children and adolescents, there has been a massive rise in the number of cases pertaining to abuse of prescription painkillers. In fact, a small proportion of the population return pills to the pharmacies and officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Considering the increased problem of leftover pills, the CDC issued a new set of guidelines in 2016 for physicians instructing to avoid prescribing powerful opioid painkillers to patients suffering from chronic noncancer pain. Additionally, the center highlighted that the risks emerging from such drugs outweigh the benefits for most people. The prolonged use of these medications can lead to addiction, thereby putting people at a much higher risk for overdose and heroin use.

Don’t share leftover prescription painkillers

With numerous Americans succumbing to opioid overdose in the U.S., the need of the hour is to take effective measures to control the dramatic rise in the over prescription of painkillers. Increasing awareness of the ill effects of prescription drugs among the people and conducting more Prescription Drug Take Back Days by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) locally and nationally, might decrease the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

If you or someone you know is battling with prescription drug abuse, contact the Arizona Prescription Abuse Helpline to know about some of the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers in Arizona. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-692-3563 or chat online for more information on prescription drug abuse treatment clinic in Arizona. It is always better to seek treatment before it’s too late.


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