Prescription drug addiction has become the leading public health issue in the United States. We’ve all heard the numbers (over 28,000 opioid fatalities in 2014; two million Americans currently addicted to painkillers; 1,000 people a day in the ER for misusing prescriptions, etc.); however, the problem continues to grow. On a personal level, anyone who has ever experienced prescription addiction or has been forced to watch a loved one go through it knows the scope of the devastation it can cause. It may seem impossible that a person can spiral so far out of control, but as we’ve seen in millions of cases throughout the country, it’s a very real possibility. This is why it’s important that the often-lax nature with which these drugs are prescribed is tempered with diligence and mindfulness by those around us.
The unfortunate reality is that doctors can’t be the last line of defense between prescription users and addiction. If the numbers are any indication, many have no interest in doing so. Only a small percentage of physicians actually adhere to CDC guidelines when issuing prescription painkillers. Many go directly to giving their patients three-month supplies even though their injuries might not warrant them. It’s up to us to make sure that we are being honest with ourselves about our level of pain prior to taking these medications. In many cases, they might be best treated as a last resort.
While prescription medications have proven to be an indispensable care resource, and help millions of Americans improve their health and gain the strength and relief to live their lives each day, many have also proven to be highly addictive and deadly. Part of insulating ourselves from addiction to these drugs is simply knowing our bodies and discussing our concerns with our physicians. When we take ownership over our illness and recovery, we have a much better shot at avoiding being ensnared by drug abuse.