Common prescription painkillers are being handed out like free smoothie coupons from doctors. Does your back hurt? Get some codeine. Pain in your left foot? There’s some vicodin for that. Twisted your neck the wrong way looking at the new coworker? I’m sure your doctor would be more than able to get some morphine for that. The growing concern with these, and other, types of opioids is their naturally addictive tendencies, especially in those patients who have histories of drug abuse. At the same time, doctors are increasingly prescribing these very powerful medications in excessively high and large amounts. Additionally, the question of how much pain medication is necessary to lead a normal life comes about; is it really acceptable for every person to take such dangerously strong drugs that could cause serious long-term side effects just because they slept the wrong way? As always, further research will be carried out in the upcoming years, and the results will be most insightful.
The clear problem with over prescribing doctors is that a patient given 40 pills of vicodin will more than likely not need to use the full amount prescribed because the root pain will have dissipated before then. As a result, these patients end up with leftover pills that they may end up using at later times when they have minor aches when the situation is not appropriate or severe enough, or selling them on the black market illegally to those seeking the psychoactive effects. Neither of these is ethically sound options, but then it seems fair to question those prescribing such vast amounts of medication. Are doctors giving out too much medication just because they feel pressured to? It has been shown that patients leave much more satisfied from a doctor’s visit if they leave with a prescription, than if they’re told to rest.
Additionally, busy schedules pressure doctors to have as few repeat patients with repeat ailments as possible. Giving too much of a medication seems like an easy way to quick fix these patients and to prevent them from coming in again for the same problems. Unfortunately, these moments of over prescribing opioids leads to addiction and reduced sensitivity to them, not to mention all the physical side effects of diarrhea, nausea, etc. While trying to prevent patients from coming in with back pain over and over again, a doctor may feel it necessary to over prescribe, leading a patient down the road to addiction which would have even more problematic effects than just the original back pain itself. Is over prescribing really the best option? Like most things, there are situations where it is more appropriate than others.
In order to avoid these severe addictive properties, avoidance of the medication itself seems a good idea. Are Americans becoming “wussies” about every little pain that crosses their way? The quick-fix drug for every ailment is the ultimate goal, but is it not necessary to have a certain amount of sensation for pain? Personally, in order to prevent abuse of these opioids, I feel many times that doctors should be bold enough to honestly tell their patients to “toughen up” and fight through certain types of pain, because they will subside quickly enough. In chronic pain cases, other methods would be appropriate, but to someone looking to get that quick fix medication, they must ask themselves if they’d really rather suffer through a fair amount of back pain, or become addicted to Percocet for the remainder of their lives, not being able to live or thrive without a drug to take them to normalcy.