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As of the year 2011, no less than seventy-five percent of the entire world’s opioid prescription pain reliever drugs were prescribed to and taken by Americans. The United States of America though is a country that makes up less than 5% of the entire world’s population. Americans don’t have 75% of the world’s pain, that much is clear. Now, this problem of overmedication and over-drugging in the United States has led to the most common cause of preventable death in America today. This is most definitely a horrifying and shameful statistic to say the least, and it is something that Americans everywhere feel badly about, if they know of it.
Death from prescription drug overdose is perhaps the worst kind of drug death here is. This is because of the ironic and totally unfair aspect of it. Everyone knows heroin is bad. So when someone dies from it, it is almost expected and does not come as much of a shock. Prescription drugs are supposed to be helpful. Some market them like they are a godsend. They are supposed to save lives and make strong and lasting change for those who are prescribed them. They are not supposed to make drug addicts who then overdose and die on them. But they do.
It is an awful sight to say the least and that goes without saying, yet someone in the United States dies from exactly this kind of overdose every 19 minutes. In this country there is absolutely no other type of medication routinely used for a non-fatal condition that actually kills its patients so frequently. Truthfully, the majority of those deaths result from prescription opioid medications, like the drugs hydrocodone, OxyContin, Percocet, Opana, Dilaudid, and others like them.
For those who know this horrific truth, there is much outrage and a clamoring for a need for change. For those who do not know it, they need to know it as soon as possible so they can make better, informed decisions.
The Role that Doctors Play in this Troubling Issue
American doctors have taken much of the blame and rightly so when it comes to pharmaceutical and prescription drug abuse in the United States. Doctors absolutely need to engage their patients more and discuss different treatment options with them that include holistic methods and non-drug related methods as well as drug-related methods. However, doctors often do not do this.
The United States is highly overprescribed as a nation. There is so much money to be made with pharmaceutical drugs that they are being pushed into the hands of the American populace way more than what would be considered ethical or at all normal. Doctors instead need to help set realistic expectations for their patients and really give them all the data about their condition and what can be done about it.
Living entirely pain free is not always possible for some cases, and alternatives need to be discussed in these situations. But instead of immediately turning to addictive, often fatal prescription drugs as a solution, doctors need to employ other treatment methods that may take more time and effort, but will be better in the long run. Doctors are respected individuals in society, and they cannot have their name stained by being connected to the prescription drug abuse epidemic that is raking its claws across the American population.
The Real Truth Behind Prescription Drug Abuse
There are plenty of other grim signs that are connected to and have to do with prescription drug abuse that sometimes are, and sometimes are not directly connected to doctors:
• It is now commonly known that heroin has made a resurgence in the nation and that 80% of new heroin users start off using pain pills, which contain the same type of base ingredients. Addicts go back and forth between these drugs all the time.
• More disturbing than that, however, is a recent study that showed to the nation that 91% of people who survived an overdose were still able to get another opioid prescription, typically from the same prescribing doctor. Not only are doctors to a large degree failing to learn and make progress, it seems that they are turning a blind eye to the tragedies unfolding right in front of them too, which is totally unlike a doctor to do so.
• One major problem that the nation has been faced with when it comes to substance abuse has been the fact that heroin is making a steady comeback. This is a drug that prior to the 1990s was all but gotten rid of. Now it’s coming back and with a vengeance too as a result of increased prescription drug abuse. Prescription drugs and heroin are very similar in their abuse so addicts have been going back and forth between the two.
• One of the biggest concerns that the United States has been facing when it comes to drug addiction and substance abuse in general has been with the simple matter of a combination of alcohol abuse and prescription pill abuse. Either one or the other is certainly terrible enough and dangerous enough by itself but when one combines the two they often become a veritable cocktail of potentially fatal substance abuse.
Looking to the Future
Much change needs to be effected in the very near future. This change is possible, and this change is in fact required if positive results are to be had. It is not impossible to salvage the situation in the United States, and a combination of doctors changing their modus operandi and the effective implementation of rehabilitation centers for those already addicted will create an effective turn around on this problem.