When patients are faced with long term illnesses that cause intense and agonizing pain, sometimes there is little doctors can do beyond prescription pain pills to provide relief. Unfortunately, many of the pain medications prescribed to patients in these situations lead to long term addiction that is often far worse than the original pain the doctors wanted to treat.
With the introduction of OxyContin to the pharmaceutical world in 1995, rates of addiction escalated quickly from a handful of people, to thousands within a matter of a couple years.
Prescription opioids like OxyContin not only provide temporary relief from pain, but when taken leads to a euphoric high that becomes both physically and mentally addictive. It’s a high that once experienced on that euphoric level, it’s not soon forgotten, and in many extreme cases patients crush and inject it directly into their bloodstream to bypass the wait.
It sounds like a bad Lifetime movie about heroin addiction, but unfortunately it’s a very real problem that has many physicians and pharmacists terrified to even prescribe the drug at all. Once exposed, many desperate patients unable to get another prescription from their doctor turn to criminal behaviors such as exaggerating their actual pain level, lying, robbery and theft to get their hands on another dose.
Compared to the powerful affects of morphine and heroin, doctors prescribe more than six-million patients with oxycodone each year, a startling number. Because of its powerful ability to alleviate pain on the moderate to severe levels, its extended-release power is meant to last, but when crushed the full impact of the drug leads to that euphoric high many crave and eventually become addicted to.
The rise in pharmacy robberies has more than doubled in many areas, and the final object of desire sought after by criminals is almost always oxycodone and its name brand OxyContin.
I worked in a pharmacy around the time OxyContin was first introduced to the market, and even then it was surprising how many scenarios we faced of people scamming the system and stealing prescription pads to feed their own addiction. The number of times we talked to the State Police was astounding, and just imagining how much worse it’s become in more recent years is unbelievable.
Which begs the question: what should doctors do to battle the addiction? Many people seem to blow off prescription medication addiction, believing if given to them by a doctor, the risk of danger and addiction must not be real. Unfortunately it is, and with patients and non-patients in age range from early teens into old age seeking ways to satisfy this dangerous addiction, many are now wondering if it should be pulled off the market completely, or reserved for hospital use only and no longer offered as a prescription option outside unsupervised situations.