Prescription Painkiller Abuse Starts at Home
Americans suffer from a variety of ailments that result in chronic pain. According to recent statistics, almost 80 percent of the global usage of prescription opioid painkillers is by Americans. In just the year 2015 alone, more than 15 million prescriptions were written for opioid analgesics, and it’s been estimated that this amounts to a market value of over $24 million. Unfortunately, these statistics also show that the misuse of these powerful pain medications is becoming commonplace. In fact, the abuse of prescription painkillers is causing some pharmacies to take action to reduce this dangerous trend. For example, CVS’ limit on opioids to attempt to curb the dangers of the misuse of these powerful medications. What is prescription drug abuse? Who is affected by this growing problem? What is being done to curb the misuse of these prescription drugs? The following paragraphs will address these vital questions in more detail.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
Prescription drug abuse refers to the misuse of a medication that has been prescribed for an individual by their physician. Whether it’s referring to pain medications, anti-depressants, or other types of drugs, the premise is the same. In many instances, the person may not even be aware that they have a problem. In their eyes, they are simply using a medication their doctor prescribed for them to gain relief from a legitimate health issue. Because chronic pain is a problem that impacts multiple areas of a person’s life, it is easy for the misuse of prescription pain medications to go unnoticed.
Who is Affected by this Growing Trend?
People of all ages can develop a problem with the misuse of prescription medications. However, it is a particularly common problem among older adults. People over the age of 50 are much more likely to suffer the consequences of the misuse of prescription drugs. As individuals get older, they’re more likely to suffer from diseases and health conditions that cause chronic pain. Therefore, it stands to reason that a larger percentage of those who abuse prescription painkillers would be of this demographic.
The Dangers of Hoarding Prescription Painkillers
Well over 200 million prescriptions for prescription opioid pain-relieving drugs are written in the United States each year. As many as 92% of those receiving these medications do not use the entire prescription. This poses a serious problem, as many people are not aware of the proper way to dispose of unwanted or unused pills. Throwing unused pills in the trash can potentially put them in the hands of those who may abuse them. Additionally, unsafe disposal practices can expose young children to these potentially deadly medications. Whether people stop using these medications because their condition has improved or because they are experiencing unwanted side effects, it is vital that the remaining pills be disposed of properly.
CVS Enforces Policies to Curb Misuse of Opioid Painkillers
To curb the growing problem of prescription opioid painkiller abuse in America, some pharmacies are changing their policies on dispensing these drugs. For example, CVS is instituting changes that will allow individuals to receive no more than a seven day supply of prescription opioid pain-relieving medications at one time.
In addition to a seven day supply limitation, CVS pharmacists will be required to openly discuss the risks of dependency and addiction with those using these types of medications. They will also instruct these individuals on the proper way to dispose of any unwanted or unused medications so that they do not end up adding to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.
The Complexity of Prescription Drug Abuse
The misuse of prescription drugs is incredibly complex. This is due in part to the fact that it is difficult to detect. Many times even those who are abusing these medications do not realize that their behavior constitutes misuse of the drug. In the eyes of those suffering from chronic pain, they are merely trying to find relief by using the prescription given to them by their physician. When a specific dosage doesn’t provide relief, they may take it upon themselves to increase the amount they’re using. Additionally, they may take the medication more often than prescribed. They may also become immune to the relief provided by a specific dose, requiring more to deliver the same benefits previously experienced. In any case, education on the topic of prescription drug abuse is a vital part of reversing this alarming trend.
For the millions of Americans experiencing chronic pain, prescription opioid pain-relieving medications are a common form of treatment. The ease of access to these types of drugs combined with a lack of understanding of the dangers of hoarding them has led to an increase in their misuse. Many medical professionals and pharmacies are now banding together to institute policies to reduce the dangerous trend of prescription drug abuse.
Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment
As the numbers of people who abuse prescription medicines increase, there is an increase in demand for reliable addiction treatment. If you, or someone you love, is abusing their prescription drugs, contact an addiction counselor at SpringBoard Recovery today for help.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-opioids
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/opioidmisuseandaddiction.html
- STAT: https://www.statnews.com/2017/09/21/cvs-opioid-prescription-limits/
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/prescriptiondrugmisuse.html
- MedicineNet: https://www.medicinenet.com/antidepressants/article.htm
- WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/understanding-pain-management-chronic-pain#1
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/prevention/index.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/maps/rxrate-maps.html
- FDA: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/where-and-how-dispose-unused-medicines