Prescription Pain Pill Abuse How much money do the drug companies make from the addictive prescription pain pill OxyContin? The amount would surprise many people. Even though prescription pain medicines help people, abuse of prescription pain medication is a growing problem, as statistics show an increase in the misuse of prescription opioids (Byrne, Lander, & Ferris, 2009). Many people are becoming addicted to these opioids, and the addiction is destroying lives. Their addictions are not only affecting the people who take them but also the families of the people who are addicted.
Long-term opioid use poses many risks to people. In recent years, pain pill abuse has sky rocketed. The number of people who abuse opioids has quadrupled from 1990 to 2000, with this outrageous spike in use, the overall cost of prescription opioid use in the U. S. is estimated to be around $9. 5 billion (Byrne, Lander, & Ferris, 2009). The graphs below shows the annual U. S. retail sales of one opioid, Oxycontin, and the reported use of prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes. Rather outstanding to see the amount of money that is being spent on these dangerous drugs.
Figure 1. Annual U. S. retail sales of Oxycontin (Public Citizen, 2010). Figure 2. National Survey on Drug Use and Health (prescription-drug-abuse. org, 2009). Prescription drug abuse is not only a growing health problem, it is also a hot topic today in the United States. A red flag has gone up due to the risks involved with addiction. When people take these drugs as prescribed they help them with aliments, such as, chronic pain. But when misused the pills can become very addicting. Reports state twenty percent of Americans use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons.
The graph illustrated above in Figure 2 shows that more than 6. 3 million Americans reported current use of prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes. In a commentary, Boyd and McCabe highlighted the limitations of the way U. S. national studies measure the nonmedical use of prescription medications. The commentary states: Despite the recent attention devoted to this form of drug abuse, relatively little is known about the different behaviors associated with the nonmedical use of prescription medications.
Neither misuse of one’s own medications nor motivations to engage in nonmedical use are adequately assesses in many of the existing epidemiologic studies that focus on substance abuse, including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Monitoring the Future, and the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (Boyd & McCabe, 2008, pg. 2). With this stated, the actual number of prescription pain pill abusers is probably much higher. So why is it doctors have not found a safe alternative? This question is probably on many Americans minds.
The risk assessment for prescription opioid use is also unsettling. Studies found that seventy five to ninety five percent of abusers were found to be smokers, and two leading screening tools have linked smoking to aberrant behaviors in patients with pain. Another risk assessment used is called SOAPP-R, which is a twenty four item self administered questionnaire that is used to help assess the risk (Passik, 2009). Doctors also use various methods to analyze the risk of each patient and his or her risk of opioid addiction. With all these assessments in place, why is the number of opioid abusers still rising?
However, there are some strategies were put in to place to help against opioid abuse. For instance, pharmacological strategies have been developed to help against abuse. One such strategy is agonist-antagonist formulations that are used to help reduce rewards at the receptor level. In other words, the high people feel from taking these prescriptions. An example is Embeda, which is a combination of morphine with an antagonist. Some other strategies that have been implemented are abuse-resistant strategies. One example is Oxycodone in gel form to help ward off abuse by not being able to manipulate the drug (i. . crush, melt, and snort. ) In all reality, opioids with a reduced abuse potential are one of the most unmet needs. (Passik, S. 2009). Not only does opioid addiction challenge people, but it also has been challenging for doctors. These doctors are having problems with under prescribing opioid medication. Doctors are afraid if they under prescribe these pills they will create nacrophobia. Nacrophobia is an abnormal fear of prescription opioids. Another example, a simple crackdown on prescribing opioids could ultimately leave some patients in pain and force those who are ddicted to seek out other drugs (Silversides, A. 2009). Because of the growing opioid addiction, doctors simply cannot win either way now. However, doctors are using some techniques to try to prevent abuse and also help with addiction. One new pharmacological treatment is buprenorphine and naloxone, which is an evidence-based treatment that offers a different treatment for opioid dependence. The medication blocks the effects of other opioids and is difficult to abuse. This treatment has already been shown effective with heroin abuse (Byrne, Lander, & Ferris 2009).
Another treatment doctor’s use for opioid abuse is methadone, which is an equally addicting drug. To try to prevent abuse, some doctors will do random pill and patch counts to make sure medications are being taken properly and as prescribed. Many flaws can be found in these methods. For social workers addressing the problem of opioid dependence, they use four main methods for an intervention. These methods are treatment, education, advocacy, and research. The treatment portion was covered in the last paragraph. They make sure they are fully educated and up to date on all the treatments possible.
Advocacy is used to make sure the medication is effective and is not misused. Last, but not least, research is done to increase social workers’ understanding of the successful tools and protocols that effectively treat prescription drug abusers (Byrne, Lander, & Ferris 2009). Funny that social workers do more than doctors and drug companies, is it not? With all of the information and statistics provided, should prescription pain pills be legal? Prescription pain pill dependency is becoming a growing concern within many communities.
Considering how much money the drug companies are making, this probably will not happen anytime soon. If any action is to happen, the entire nation must take a stand against these addicting drugs. It should be proposed that either the drug companies make alterations to these medications or they ban them once and for all. References Boyd, C. J. , & McCabe, S. E.. (2008, November 18). Coming to terms with the nonmedical use of prescription medications. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 3, 22. Retrieved from Academic OneFile via Gale Byrne, M. , Lander, L. , & Ferris, M. 2009). The changing face of opioid addiction: Prescription pain pill dependence and treatment. Health & Social Work, 34(1). 53-56. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database. Comer, S. , Sullivan, M. , Whittington, R. , Vosburg, S. , & Kowalczyk, W.. (2008). Abuse liability of prescription opioids compared to heroin in morphine-maintained heroin abusers. Neuropsychopharmacology, 33(5), 1179-91. Retrieved from ProQuest Health and Medical Complete. (Document ID: 1444209411). Passik, S. (2009). Issues in Long-term opioid therapy: Unmet Needs, Risks, and Solutions.
Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 84(7), 593-601. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database. Prescription Drug Abuse (2009). Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved from Google. www. prescription-drug-abuse. org Public Citizen (2010). Testimony Before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oxycontin and the Prosecution of Purdue (HRG Publication #1821) Retrieved from Google. www. citizen. org/publications/release. cfm? ID=7537 Silversides, A.. (2009). Opioid prescribing challenges doctors. Canadian Medical Association. Journal, 181(*), E143-4. Retrieved from Research Library. (Document ID: 1882477501).