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It Starts with Pain Killers

Prescription painkillers or opiates are more available now than ever before.  It is estimated that in 2012 between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States sufferings from substance abuse related to prescription opioid pain relievers. At the same period of time, there are 467,000 people addicted to heroin.  The rates of prescription opiate use and abuse have dramatically increased over the last decade. Now more than ever before people were getting a taste of opiates at a young age.

Millions of people use drugs safely and generally, physicians prescribe them conscientiously. But the prescription of painkillers can act as an introduction or reintroduction to an opiate high. These pills more so than others set off heroin cravings in recovering addicts.

First, it starts with legitimate prescription and the next thing you know the pills are being obtained on the street. When the prescriptions stop heroin is a much cheaper substitute.

In the hopes of curbing addiction new federal guidelines have been proposed:

  •  Narcotic prescriptions are by triplicate script only
  •  No telephone refills
  • Renewal prescriptions must be accompanied by a written prescription
  • Attempts are made to prescribe less addicting medication
  • Increasing co-pays for narcotic medication

If one takes a pain medication for a legitimate problem there is a slim chance of developing an addiction. Muscle relaxants should only be used for brief periods of time.  A history of drug or alcohol abuse or mental illness should heighten awareness of potential difficulties.

The signs of drug addiction are craving where the mind develops an overwhelming compulsive desire for the drug. The drug desire or craving can result in loss of control or inability to stop the drug even when it causes harm.

Danger signs of prescription addiction:

  • Doctor shopping
  • Stealing
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Accidentally misplacing prescriptions
  • Taking more pills or higher doses of medications than prescribed
  • Insurance company presents copy of prescriptions and providers

To learn more about Dr. Cotler or to schedule an appointment, please call us on (713) 523-8884.

Howard B. Cotler, MD, FACS, FAAOS is board certified and recertified in Orthopedic Surgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons.

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