Painkiller Addiction in Student Athlete

The Painkiller High School Problem: How Injuries Aren’t the Only Risk in Athletics

High school is one of the most important times in our lives. It is a time of learning, growth, and opportunity, and shapes us for the rest of our lives. There are few things shape us as much as school sports, which teach high school students to work in teams and build relationships.

While the benefits of playing high school sports are many, there are also risks involved. The main risk is being injured, which may lead to an even more deadly risk: addiction to painkillers. In this article, we’ll walk you through what painkillers are, why high school athletes chase the painkiller high, and how young athletes can avoid addiction.

Painkillers: What Are They?

Painkillers are a class of prescription medication called opiates. Opiates come from the opium plant and work by mimicking the pain-reducing chemicals in your brain called endorphins. Endorphins reduce stress and pain and create a feeling of well-being.

Opiates act like endorphins because connect to the same places in your brain and create a sense of euphoria, energy, or well-being. Opiates are powerful because they cause a strong intoxicating effect and are addictive.

Common painkiller drugs include morphine, codeine, and Oxycontin. These drugs are for patients who have suffered an injury and are suffering from intense pain.

The Painkiller High: Dangers for Student-Athletes

So why are painkillers so dangerous for high school athletes? The first reason that painkillers are so dangerous for student-athletes is the potency of these drugs. Painkillers are very easy to overdose on based on their high potency.

Over 68% of overdoses in the United States are from painkillers and with over 130 Americans dying from opiate overdoses per day, the threat is real.

Student-athletes are more likely to use painkillers than others. High school athletes are already more likely to use illegal drugs than students who don’t play sports, which may be due to the stress of performing.

But high school athletes are even more likely to sustain an injury at some point in their sports career. These injuries can be serious, like a broken leg or torn ligament, and need more time to heal and pain management techniques.

Student-athletes are often given a prescription for these painkillers when they suffer an injury. While the painkillers reduce pain in the short term, some students start using the pills to get high or get addicted while managing their pain.

Consequences of Painkiller Abuse

The first and most obvious consequence of abusing painkillers is an overdose. Painkiller overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Drug users who don’t die from an opiate overdose may suffer from brain damage or organ damage due to lack of oxygen, which may last for a lifetime.

Painkiller abuse can also affect the digestive system of users. Painkillers make the bowels slow down, which leads to constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

The most dangerous consequences of painkiller abuse are an increase in use and using more dangerous drugs. Because painkillers are so addictive and powerful, they lead to addiction and an increased tolerance for the drug. This is dangerous because it causes the user to take more pills to get the same high, which leads to overdoses, serious financial issues, and crime.

Heroin Abuse

When addicts either can’t afford more painkillers or their prescription runs out, they turn to a cheaper drug that is easier to get: heroin. Heroin is an illegal opiate that is usually sold as a powder or resin, which is then smoked, snorted, or injected into the body. It is cheap, easy to get, and very strong,

Heroin is dangerous because the potency isn’t consistent and different things are added to it to make it stronger. Fentanyl is one of the strongest prescription painkillers on the planet and is added to heroin to increase the potency. This has lead to a sharp increase in overdose deaths from opiates.

Avoiding Painkiller Addiction in Student-Athletes

There’s not much you can do to prevent student-athletes from getting injured. But there are many steps you can take to make sure that young athletes don’t become addicted to painkillers.

The first step you can take is to make sure that your student-athlete isn’t prescribed painkillers in the first place. Painkillers help manage pain but there are other ways to reduce pain.

Anti-Inflammatories

Over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen and aspirin reduce inflammation and pain. They are hard to overdose on, aren’t addictive, and are easy to find.

R.I.C.E

R.I.C.E stands for the four steps of recovery: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Resting the injured body part, icing the injury, compressing the injury with wraps, and elevating the injury above your heart reduces pain and increases recovery.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help reduce the pain from longterm or recurring injuries. It also prevents injuries in the future by strengthening joints and the muscles surrounding them.

Management

Making sure to supervise your young athlete’s painkiller prescription is also important. If your student-athlete has a painkiller prescription, make sure that they take the right amount and don’t have access to the pills.

You can also make sure that the prescription is appropriate for their injury. If the pain won’t last more than a couple of days, then that is how long the prescription should last for. If the pain takes longer to go away, make sure that the doctor has a plan to reduce the use of painkillers over the course of recovery.

Protect Student-Athletes from Addiction

Now that you know a little more about the use of painkillers in high school sports, you can educate student-athletes about why a painkiller high is so dangerous. The only way to stop addiction is by educating people, and that starts with spreading the word.

If you have any questions about opiate addiction, treatment, and recovery, please visit our blog.

References

prescription abuse

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Painkiller Addiction

It is no secret that painkillers have played a large role in the addiction rates in the U.S.

In fact, there are currently 58 opioid prescriptions every year for every 100 Americans.

If these are prescribed medications, what kind of damage can they do, and what can I do to help?

Let’s talk about prescription painkillers, their risks, and everything you need to know about them.

What Are Prescribed Painkillers?

Prescribed painkillers are drugs that are prescribed by a doctor for the sole purpose of relieving pain.

These drugs are not meant to treat or cure any disease or illness, but simply to mask pain. They can be prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, from a broken hand to alleviating pain after an operation.

These drugs involve the use of opium, which is a highly addictive compound that can impair judgment and motor functions.

These often lead to a very short-lived euphoria, and many people enjoy the feeling and feel a need to continue to relive it.

There are many risks involved with these types of medications, particularly with substance abuse, leading to other complications. Let’s talk about that.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Painkiller Addiction

Painkiller addictions are a serious problem and should be treated that way. You have likely heard stories of addictions from the media or from loved ones.

Painkillers can lead to serious health risks, especially when taken consistently or with high doses. Here are some of the facts.

1. Painkillers Can Lead To Other Addictions

This may sound obvious, but it is to a much higher extent than you would believe. People who are prescribed opioids are 19 times more likely to start using drugs like heroin.

In fact, urban injection drug users interviewed in 2008 and 2009 found that 86% had used pain relievers either medically or nonmedically prior to their heroin addiction.

2. Withdrawal Symptoms Are No Joke

After you use these medications for a while, the body can become dependant on it. Once the body has adapted to the presence of the substance, a higher dose may be needed to create the same effects.

After a while, once the body is fully dependant on the substance, quitting can cause some serious effects. Including insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and involuntary muscle spasms.

3. Side Effects Can Be Lethal

Overdoses are all too common in the US, and 68% of them involve the use of opioids.

One of the most serious risks with painkillers is the possibility of respiratory depression. High doses can cause breathing to slow down to the point that users die.

Some of the side effects you may encounter with these drugs include constipation, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, and decreased cognitive abilities.

While those are not fatal, they can certainly inhibit one’s ability to perform essential duties for their health. That can lead to malnourishment and other potentially fatal complications.

Not only that, day-to-day operations can be incredibly lethal while using these medications, like driving or operating machinery. If you are using these drugs, driving after use can put many people’s lives at risk.

Another serious risk of death with these medications is when they are mixed with other substances, including alcohol. Taking these medications for medical use should be used exclusively, and in the prescribed dosage, to avoid complications.

4. Symptoms Can Be Spotted

Visiting multiple doctors to get prescriptions for painkillers, social withdrawal, slurring speech, lying about whereabouts and activities, or stealing medication that has been prescribed to someone else.

These are all common indicators of painkiller addiction. If you know somebody who exhibits these behaviors, or if you exhibit them yourself, these are key signs of addiction.

If you are looking for physical symptoms, they will likely include dilated pupils, impaired coordination, and heavy perspiration.

If those symptoms fit the bill, then that person needs treatment. Find out how to do an intervention the right way to help a loved one.

5. These Prescriptions Are On The Rise

Since the year 2000, the number of opioid prescriptions in the US has increased by over 400%.

That is a troubling amount considering the rising addiction rates. If you are able to get through the pain with over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen, it may be a wise choice to choose that alternative.

6. Other Factors Can Influence Addiction

There are many co-occurring illnesses that often pair with substance abuse. People can be more susceptible to addiction when they are facing other mental health issues.

People suffering from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are far more likely to be a victim of substance abuse. People will look for non-medical ways to help ease their suffering.

Be transparent with your doctors about these pre-existing conditions before accepting addictive medications.

However, there is dual diagnosis treatment available for people struggling with addiction and mental illness.

7. Treatment Is Not The End

Unfortunately, many people who receive treatment will relapse, as addiction is very powerful. Between 40% and 60% of patients will abuse the drug again.

That shouldn’t stop you from trying. Yes, many do go back to substance abuse. However, that is only because treatment is not a cure.

Recovery is a lifelong process. The three main steps are seeking treatment, starting recovery, and maintaining abstinence. The latter is the longest and most difficult.

If a loved one has received treatment, do what you can to support them, as they will need a helping hand.

If you are maintaining your abstinence, seek out any support you can get and continue the progress you’ve made.

Next Steps

It is clear that the risks of these medications are incredibly serious, and should be treated with care.

If you have been prescribed a painkiller, make sure that you take the proper steps to avoid addiction.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to painkillers, please check out our admissions page and get the help that is needed today!

References:

What Causes Painkiller Addiction

Prescription Drug Abuse: What Causes Painkiller Addiction

130 people each day. That’s the rate of death stemming from the opioid crisis.

That translates to a little over 5 people every hour, or one death every twenty minutes. So in the time, it takes to watch the newest episode of your favorite Netflix show, another person dies from an opioid overdose.

It’s a grim reality, and one the United States is only just coming to grips with. After all, it was only in 2017 that the federal government declared Opiates a public health emergency. But the opiate crisis has been ongoing since the 1990’s.

But how could this happen? In a country that calls itself the greatest in the world, how is it possible that so many are dying from a preventable addiction?

It’s a complicated answer, and the history is long. But to understand how painkiller addiction happens, it’s necessary to first understand how opiates work, why they are so addictive, and how we got here in the first place.

Only then will you be able to recognize the signs of prescription drug abuse. Keep reading to learn more.

The Beginning of a Crisis

In the 1990’s, pharmaceutical companies wanted to cash in on the miracle of opioid painkillers.

After all, here was this miraculous solution to pain management. They could make the pain simply go away, making it a medical marvel.

And it meant huge dollar signs for pharmaceutical companies, who began aggressive marketing campaigns to get the drugs in the hands of patients.

Prior to 1991, most opioid drugs were for pain management in cancer patients. There was no research suggesting benefits for non-cancer patients, but pharma companies saw a financial opening and a new market. So they started pushing, offering doctors huge perks and benefits for prescribing opioids to non-cancer patients.

The campaign was so successful that pharma companies saw opioid revenue grow from $48 million in 1996 to more than $1 billion four years later.

Worries About Addiction

Medical organizations and doctors raised concerns about the possible addictive properties of these new drugs. After all, they were modeled on opium, the main ingredient in heroin and morphine, both highly addictive.

But the pharma industry brushed aside these fears, assuring doctors that this was part of the miracle: powerful pain relief with no chance of addiction.

Proving them wrong didn’t take long. Deaths from opiate overdose began skyrocketing in the mid-90’s and only got higher as time went on. Pharma companies began producing newer drugs. As Fentanyl hit the market, it produced a new wave of addicts.

And as prescriptions ran out, some patients turned to heroin, which was cheaper and readily available.

But how do these drugs work? How have they ensnared so many?

Understanding Opiates

It’s important here to understand the verbiage. Opiates are a type of narcotic.

Now, narcotic has become an umbrella term for all drugs. But when we say narcotic in reference to opioids, it refers to drugs of a specific type.

Before it became an umbrella term, a narcotic was defined as a drug that “…dulls the senses, relieves pain and produces a profound sleep…”

The original opiates were morphine and heroin and were common during medical procedures. Originally, scientists developed morphine as an aid for those with heroin addiction, since when it was first isolated, no one bothered to test its own addictive properties.

So what do they do to the body?

Opiates are “downers”, meaning that they depress the functioning of the central nervous system. This relieves pain, but also can cause euphoria, as well as a whole slew of other side effects, from dry mouth to constipation.

Understanding Addiction

So with the side effects, why would anyone take opiates longer than they had to?

First, it’s important to understand how people get addicted.

Addiction is a disease, and it’s one that isn’t well understood, even within professional circles. Often, people who don’t understand addiction frame it as a lack of moral fortitude or willpower.

In other words, the perception is that only “bad people” or “weak people” become addicts. The reality, however, is far more complicated.

Addiction is a cyclical illness. A person takes a drug, which feeds the pleasure center of the brain by flooding it with dopamine.

Now, the brain produces dopamine anyway as a natural reaction to eating, drinking, or having sex. The brain rewards activities necessary to sustain life in order to make you keep doing them.

But when you introduce drugs, they flood the brain with high levels of dopamine, which throws the system out of alignment. Instead of rewarding healthy behaviors, the drugs force the bran to reward unhealthy behaviors.

The secondary effect here is that, as more dopamine enters the brain on a regular basis, the brain shuts down the cells used to receive it, in an attempt to regulate its functioning. This means that more and more levels of drug use are necessary to maintain the same high.

It’s also vital to understand that not every person who uses painkillers will get addicted. Millions of people every year use them without getting addicted. Whether or not a person becomes addicted depends on several factors, but none of them is ethics or moral fiber.

Genetic Factors

Because addiction is a psychiatric disease, it stands to reason that there is a genetic component, like any other psychiatric disease. The children of people with depression are more likely than the general public to suffer from depression. In the same way, the children of addicts are more likely to become addicts themselves.

Researchers at the National Institue of Drug Abuse have a theory for this.

The brain contains a finite number of dopamine receptors that help the brain regulate its pleasure center. Brain imaging suggests that individuals with fewer of these receptors are more likely to struggle with addiction. And, like with much else in the body, how many receptors are present is largely determined by genetics.

Studies on twins have also shown that identical twins, who share a genome that is 100% indistinguishable, are highly likely to share addictions. So much so that identical twins are often assumed to be concordant, or to either both be addicts or neither.

Genetics account for about half of a person likelihood for addiction. But what about external factors?

Environmental Factors

Genetics accounts for about half of individuals likely to become addicted. The other half is external, or environmental.

Keep in mind that opiates, in particular, offer easy relief from pain. There are other methods of pain management available, but they often take a great deal more effort.

Now, faced with that explanation, many explain it away. “Oh,” they say, “this is just proof that addicts are lazy and unwilling to try other things to reduce their pain!”

But the reality is that debilitating pain is just that: debilitating. Often, it becomes so all-consuming that sufferers just want it to go away so that they can function. The idea of trying anything else is so exhausting as to seem nearly impossible.

It can also be an issue of withdrawal. Even very limited use of painkillers can induce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the prescription runs out. And if there is still pain from the original problem, the withdrawal symptoms may prove to be too much, especially for those without adequate support systems.

The Process of Addiction

Let’s take a look at how addiction happens in a practical sense.

It starts, perhaps obviously, with pain. Let’s call our patient Claire. She is 19, and a gymnast at her university.

Claire requires surgery for a torn ACL. Surgery goes well, and her surgeon prescribes her a week’s worth of oxycontin for pain the week following surgery. She knows her uncle struggled with addiction years ago, but she doesn’t know him well and assumes his issues stemmed from elsewhere.

The meds keep her pain under control, but she is frustrated by her limited mobility. Her teammates are at a competition, and she is still in recovery. At the end of the week, her meds run out, and the pain returns. It isn’t as bad as it was in the beginning, but she’s had a week of perfectly controlled pain, and the return is unbearable.

She is also feeling sick as the effects of the medication wear off. The narcotics have made her digestion slow, and she is still struggling with her limitations.

She calls her doctor and asks for a refill. They give her five more days worth, at a lower dose.

She takes two at a time to combat the pain at the same levels and begins to test her boundaries at physical therapy. Taking the pills makes the pain go away, which lets her go further in her mobility.

She keeps pushing her injured leg too far, necessitating more rest.

The setbacks cause more frustration, more pain, and more pills. She “borrows” an old prescription from her mother when she is home for Thanksgiving.

She is now buying pills from a cook at her job at a local restaurant because even though her ACL is mostly healed, the euphoria goes away every time she comes down. Coping with the stress of finals is getting impossible.

Only until finals are over, she promises herself.

But the pills are expensive. Her friend at work mentions that heroin is cheaper, and is basically the same thing. In a moment of desperation at the end of finals, she gives in.

In a matter of months, she has gone from promising young gymnast to an addict who can only think of her next pill. And it happened without her ever realizing what was happening.

Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

The signs of prescription drug abuse come in four categories: behavioral, cognitive, physical, and psychosocial. Recognizing them in a loved one is crucial for recovery.

Addicts may hide behavioral signs, such a preoccupation with getting more pills or illegally acquiring more pills. Often, addicts are able to cover their tracks until things become too out of hand to hide.

Cognitive signs include disorientation, confusion, and an inability to focus.

Physical signs, which are among the easiest to spot. These can include itchiness, hypersomnia, constipation, irregular heartbeat, pinpointed pupils, and excessive sweating.

Psychosocial symptoms may manifest as mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression.  Addicts may begin stealing pills or money and withdrawing from personal relationships in order to avoid detection.

The Road out of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disorder. Someone who is an addict will remain an addict for the rest of their life. This does not mean, however, that they must remain in a harmful cycle of abusing pills forever.

Most recovery programs agree that the first step to recovery is simply the addict realizing that they have a problem. They then must realize that there is a way out. Often, addicts try and fail to quit and become discouraged, convinced they will be trapped in the cycle of addiction forever.

They must move past this mindset before recovery can begin.

Once they are ready, ongoing treatment and support are crucial. They will need an unwavering support system, ready to help in moments of crisis. An inpatient treatment program may be necessary, and meetings will a local Narcotics Anonymous can help connect them with others who can empathize with their struggle.

After ninety days of sobriety, their risk of relapse decreases, but vigilance will always be necessary, especially because prescription drugs are the first resource in the event of surgery or major injury.

Conclusion

There is hope for those affected by opiate addiction. And once you know how to recognize the signs of prescription drug abuse, you can help support loved ones as they navigate their way to freedom.

But you don’t have to navigate the waters of recovery alone. We are here to help, connecting your loved ones with the best resources and treatment options.

To help your loved one begin their journey, contact us today.

ATS_Blogs_Launch_DoctorGivesMedOverdosePatient

Overdose Patients Still Getting Drugs From Doctors

intmedPatients who are admitted into the Emergency Room for prescription painkiller overdoses are often still given prescriptions for their drug of choice well after they have had near fatal problems with pills. This is likely due to the fact that ER doctors very rarely communicate with the patient’s prescribing doctor. This significant oversight has caused many patients to continue abusing prescription painkillers and risk further overdose. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine came to this conclusion after investigating information provided by insurance companies. The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Seventy percent of patients who overdosed were getting their drugs from the same doctor who prescribed the narcotic before the overdose…This signals a problem with the health system, but I don’t think it necessarily fingers doctors as being bad doctors,” explained Dr. Marc Larochelle, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Doctors who are treating patients that are prescribed prescription painkillers cannot rely on them disclosing the fact that they overdosed. Those who are addicted are not likely to admit to this for fear that their drugs will be taken away or they will be forced into treatment. In order to effectively handle this problem, Larochelle says that Emergency Room doctors and prescribing doctors have to communicate.

This is especially important because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information stating that prescription drug overdoses are at an all-time high. According to reports, 47,000 people in the United States passed away from drug overdoses, that is a 14% increase from the year before. These numbers are only projected to increase if doctors are not aware that their patients are being treated for overdoses from the pills that are being prescribed.

As the prescription painkiller problem continues to grow, medical doctors are being cautioned about perpetuating the problem by prescribing the drugs to people who abuse them, however the problem may be better addressed if more information was shared, such as with prescription drug monitoring databases. Emergency Room doctors, patients, loved ones and other medical professionals need to maintain communication for the safest prescribing practices and to help minimize future overdoses.

Prescription Painkillers

The Problem with Pain Management and Addiction

Prescription PainkillersPain management is a tricky problem that many healthcare providers struggle with addressing on a daily basis. Measuring to what degree a patient is in pain is very subjective and oftentimes the most important factor in determining whether or not they should be prescribed narcotic painkillers.

Doctors and nurses are taught to take pain very seriously. The American Pain Society designated pain to be the fifth vital sign in 1995 and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) developed monitoring standards in which to measure pain in a patient. So, with the increased awareness of pain and the understanding that it is necessary to treat pain, doctors are put in a strange position. They are tasked with addressing and helping to alleviate a person’s pain, but they also need to make sure that they are not prescribing narcotic painkillers to someone who is lying or exaggerating about their symptoms in order to receive drugs.

The American College of Preventive Medicine reports that 5.3 million Americans abuse narcotic painkillers every month. Some of these people get their pills off the street and some of these people get them directly from a doctor. No matter where they are obtaining their drugs, one this is clear, the pills came after some diagnosis of pain somewhere. Dealers who have a chronic pain problem can acquire the pills and then sell them on the street for one dollar per milligram, or addicts can go into a hospital and complain of pain and hope that a doctor is willing to write them a prescription. It has become the general consensus that we have created the problem together – doctors, patients and drug companies.

There is an incredible amount of people who abuse pain management attempts by doctors, but there is also a large group that suffers from legitimate chronic pain and needs the aid of medication as part of their therapy. The Institute of Medicine came out with a report that stated that more than 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. Recent reports of the ineffectiveness of opioid narcotics to treat chronic pain, along with their intensely high potential for abuse, have spurred leaders to develop and use non-narcotic treatments instead.

More Doctors Prescribing Buprenorphine

sacovergDrug treatment programs have long been regarded as the best solution to help someone get clean from illegal drugs. While the country grapples with the increasing use of drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers, some wonder why more addicts are not seeking help from rehabilitation facilities.

Experts agree that the stigma attached to drug abuse prevents some people from feeling comfortable in enrolling in a treatment facility. In addition to the perceived shun from society, users often have a difficult time admitting that they need help and following through with their admittance into treatment. Many point out that the painful withdrawal symptoms from heroin or prescription painkillers cause addicts to give up their quest for sobriety in favor of preventing the painful, flulike symptoms. However, a recent study shows that the gap between addicts and at some forms of treatment might be getting smaller, due to more physicians ability to prescribe medication to help with the process.

Buprenorphine is a medication that, when taken, helps to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms that people feel when they stop using heroin or prescription painkillers. In order to obtain a prescription for buprenorphine, someone has to go to a doctor that is approved to prescribe, or they have to turn to a treatment program. In the past, many addicts have found it difficult to locate a doctor with this ability, but now more and more doctors are obtaining the certificate that allows them to treat addicts. In fact, it has been reported that 98.9% of physicians were not licensed to dispense buprenorphine prior to 2011. That number has since dropped to 46.8%. The dramatic increase of doctors who are willing and able to help treat opioid dependency has led to a 74% increase in the availability of this form of treatment.

It must be stated, though, that the administration of buprenorphine alone doesn’t cure an addiction to heroin or painkillers. Long-term maintenance programs don’t provide the full solutions either, as the end goal should be to get off any opioid if at all possible. This is evidenced by the fact that buprenorphine itself is a drug that is abused on the street, and why doctors who prescribe the medication typically refer people to a treatment facility to address the full issues related to the substance abuse problem. If you are looking for help to recover from an opiate addiction, contact us today we’ll help you locate a treatment program that works.

How Responsible are Doctors and Pharmacists for Prescription Drug Addiction?

A recent West Virginia Supreme Court ruling could potentially impact the fate of physicians and pharmacists throughout the state. A 3-2 vote made it legal for addicts to sue their doctor or pharmacist for allowing the person to become addicted to prescription painkillers. Since the decision was made the medical community and the general public are divided over the future implications of this decision.

Prescription drug abuse has long since reached epidemic proportions and in states like West Virginia, and thousands of people are dying because of their addiction to painkillers. Because of the extreme gravity and speed that prescription painkillers are taking over people’s lives, extreme decisions like the one made in the West Virginia may be called for.

One of the most common ways that addicts acquire their prescription painkillers is through doctor-shopping. This means that they go from doctor to doctor complaining of ailments and receive prescriptions to various narcotics. Many states have instituted a prescription monitoring programs in an attempt to avoid excessive doctor-shopping and other forms of prescription drug fraud. The tool that can be accessed by other doctors and pharmacists is designed to allow doctors to input the information from their visit with a patient as well as review the patient’s prescription drug history.

The decision to allow people who become addicted to prescription drugs to sue doctors and pharmacists is extreme but will likely give many professionals pause before liberally prescribing prescription painkillers.

“It may cause some physicians to curb or stop treating pain altogether for fear of retribution should treatment lead to patient addiction and/or criminal behavior. It may create additional barriers for patients seeking treatment for legitimate chronic pain due to reduced access to physician. It would allow criminals to potentially profit for their wrongful conduct by taking doctors and pharmacists to court,” explained The West Virginia Medical Association in response to the new ruling.

It could be very difficult to prove that a particular doctor or pharmacist was the cause of someone’s addiction, yet there is no doubt that the prescribing industry has certainly played its part, whether knowingly or unknowingly, in the escalation of the prescription drug problem in America.

Prescription Drugs Affecting More Newborns

naspediatricsDue to the prescription drug epidemic that the United States is still battling, there has been a significant increase in the number of babies being born addicted to narcotic painkillers. A recent study looked into the problem of infants born addicted to drugs, something called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The study first delved into the babies addicted to drugs in general, however, researchers noticed that many babies who were born with an addiction had mothers who were not taking illicit drugs. In fact, these mothers were being treated by doctors who were prescribing them narcotic painkillers.

Prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone are very similar to heroin. They produce the same euphoric effect and they have painful withdrawal symptoms. Painkillers are one of the most abused drugs in the country, and legislators and law enforcement have been working tirelessly to reduce the amount of people that abuse the pills.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center studied information from 112,029 women who were pregnant in Tennessee. They found that of all the babies born addicted to drugs, nearly two-thirds of the mothers had filled prescriptions for at least one painkiller during the pregnancy. Other drugs were also present, including prescription antidepressants, nicotine and street drugs. The study appears in the journal Pediatrics.

The study is important because it specifically looks at the prescription painkiller problem and how it is affecting newborns and mothers. It shines a light on the need for more doctor education regarding painkiller abuse and the importance of drug monitoring systems that would allow doctors to see if their patient is exhibiting drug-seeking behaviors.

“Historically, drug withdrawal for newborns has been described among illicit drug use such as heroin or women treated for previous opioid abuse. This is really one of the first studies to look at legal prescriptions for pregnant women. And it draws attention to what is going on in our nation,” explained Stephen Patrick, a neonatologist who specializes in infant drug dependency.

Hopefully, for the sake of our children, doctors will start to pay more attention to what they are prescribing to women who are pregnant, as there are many other damaging effects that can cause harm to the babies than NAS, including a wide range of complications before and after birth.