Prescription drugs are the most abused substances in the United States today. This kind of drug addiction can start for a variety of reasons like chronic pain, but the result is that millions of Americans can't stop taking these medications.
Chronic Pain Can Lead to Substance Abuse
One of the main causes of drug abuse is chronic pain. An injury, an illness, or other conditions can leave a person feeling constant pain. Over time, the body and the mind wear down because of the stress of the pain, and most people become desperate to be free from it. Chronic pain causes depression and mood swings, and it can lead people to substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can help numb the pain and give some relief to the mind. This is dangerous, however, because a person who self-medicates with drugs or alcohol can easily become addicted to the substances.
Some people who do consult their physician for help with chronic pain, still end up with a drug addiction. Prescription painkillers are the number one way people manage chronic pain, and while this can be a safe, effective method when under the care of a physician, the painkillers are very addicting and must be taken with care.
Some doctors will keep a patient on prescription pain meds for a long period of time or at a higher dose than necessary, but overusing them can be dangerous. Other people like the way the painkillers make them feel and begin to take larger doses more frequently, which can also quickly lead to addiction.
Preventing Prescription Painkiller Abuse
The U.S.government has started to more closely regulate doctors who prescribe painkillers, in an effort to decrease prescription drug abuse. Pill mills, which fuel prescription drug addiction by over-prescribing these medications, are being forced to shut down. Prescription drug databases are being established across the country to monitor patients' prescription history and watch for abuse.
In order to prevent more people from becoming addicted to prescription painkillers, doctors and patients must work together. Effective pain management is important for a person's well-being. Doctors who prescribe risky prescription painkillers should monitor their patients closely for abuse. Patients should take prescription painkillers only as prescribed by a trusted doctor.