In a culture of quick and easy fixes, prescription medication has become synonymous with “wellness.”The problem of overprescribing medication is rampant in America and pharmaceutical drug overdoses are now one of the leading causes of death in the nation.However, mega-prescribing is much more than just a reflection of this cultural mantra.
While we value convenience and easy fixes, systemic processes can also lead to overprescribing. Although prescription drugs are necessary and lifesaving in many circumstances, the correlation between prescription drugs and prescription drug addiction is undeniable. And the adverse effects are becoming increasingly apparent.
The numbers are staggering and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now officially labeled prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. According to CDC data, the percent of people taking at least one prescription drug increased by 50 percent between the years of 2007 and 2010.According to CDC data, the percent of people taking at least one prescription drug increased by 50 percent between the years of 2007 and 2010. And researchers from the Mayo Clinic, a non-profit medical research center, report that over 20 percent of Americans now take five or more prescription drugs.
So, who’s to blame for overprescribing? Are doctors too heavy on the prescription pad? Are big pharmaceutical companies holding the pen? Or, are we too ingrained into a culture of quick fixes? Truthfully, everyone plays a role in this complex issue.
Many would argue that prescription pads have almost replaced the roles of therapeutic doctors. It’s as if healing and sobriety are no longer factors. Although commonsense lifestyle changes and non-drug treatment may alleviate conditions such as insomnia or simple abdominal pain, there are doctors who rely solely on prescribing drugs to treat patients.
In an almost ironic twist, this may lead to drug cascading, which is the process of prescribing one drug to treat the symptoms caused by another drug. In essence, doctors are prescribing drugs to treat symptoms of prescribed drugs, which may or may not have been necessary in the first place. Along with drug cascading, doctors are also being criticized for succumbing to the “business” of healthcare rather than the practice. In other words, they increasingly represent a professional front for the billion-dollar drug industry instead of focusing on wellness .
- Opioid prescriptions increased from 76 million in 1991 to an astounding 207 million in 2013.
- The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports 4 out of 5 current heroin addicts began using after abusing prescribed opioids.
- Overdosing on opioids like OxyContin and hydrocodone has spiked dramatically in recent years. Not surprisingly, many experts directly attribute this rise to overprescribing.
This problem of overprescribing opioids—and, according to other research, failing to warn patients about the risks of dependence and overdose—isn’t unique to emergency doctors. Physicians in other specialties, like internal medicine and primary care, prescribe even more opioids. More research is needed to develop guidelines for safe and effective treatment of pain with opioids. The results also highlight the potential dangers of opioids for anyone prescribed them.
No matter how you feel about prescription drug culture or our current healthcare system, it’s important to understand that you are ultimately in control of the decisions made regarding your health.
Perform research, seek second-opinions and always be discerning when taking a drug that’s designed to affect your mind and body. The more you know, the better off you’ll be to make informed and beneficial .
And one more thing; never give doctors, pharmaceutical companies or cultural trends the power to make healthcare decisions for you. You’re in charge of your sobriety; your questions, concerns and reactions are valid. Let your voice be heard.