PRESCRIPTION OPIOID ABUSE

3D illustration of "Opioid Addiction" title on pill bottle isolated on white.

We perform many procedures that have discomfort as a possible side effect so we prescribe pain medication regularly. I have always taken this responsibility seriously and we have genuine concern for the potential for individuals to abuse this. (J Oral Maxillofac Surg 74:1291-1293, 2016). Although it is a very real responsibility for surgeons to prescribe responsibly, it is also the responsibility of individuals to use the privilege of prescription medications responsibly. This includes the responsible curation, storage, and/or disposal of these medications. Unfortunately, our society has become somewhat naïve and casual as it relates to the possibility that family, friends, or even casual visitors to our homes may be using our prescription drugs. Pain medications are an obvious one, but abuse of many types of medications or illicit use of them is widespread.

The data below is from the article mentioned above:

  • In 2010, enough prescription narcotics were prescribed to medicate every American adult every four hours for one month.
  • The number one source of prescription drugs used by teenagers is from their parent’s medicine cabinet.
  • Three out of four people abusing prescription opioids obtained them from a friend or family member.
  • Since 1999 the number of overdose deaths from prescription pain medications increased by 300%. The amount surpasses deaths due to the combined total of overdoses from heroin and cocaine.

These are the sobering statistics.

The bottom line is that we all need to be educated and aware that this is an active problem. Doctors, including our office, as well as hospitals, emergency rooms and urgent care centers are all working together to try to help in curtailing this concern. Please do your part as well by protecting your prescription medications and disposing of drugs you are not using.

Reference: Surgeon General; turnthetiderx.org

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