According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), poor prescribing habits by physicians are to blame for most of the misuse and/or abuse of prescription narcotic pain killers (otherwise known as “opioid prescription pain relievers”) in the United States today. Reportedly, this has been a disturbing and growing trend over the past several years. Over 500,000 E. R. visits to U.S. hospitals in 2010 were due to misuse or abuse of prescription opiate pain medications. The admissions rate to U.S. hospitals for patients experiencing prescription pain pill overdoses has increased by nearly 300%! Many analysts have concluded that contrary to conventional opinion, “irresponsible doctors” and prescription medications containing opioids may be responsible for a greater number of overdoses and deaths than those linked to “drug dealers” and illegal drugs! Recent statistics have revealed that over 70% of drug overdose deaths within the past five years have been secondary to prescription pain blocker abuse. And while the overall death rate linked to heroin overdoses has gone down, the death rate for overdoses related to medically prescribed pain-killer drug overdoses has actually gone up! Statistics have also revealed that the sharpest increases in prescription opiate medication abuse over the past several years have been seen among whites (over 400% increase) and in women age 40 – 60 (over 400% increase).
The CDC’s data suggests that over 12 million Americans (about 1 in 20) are taking opiate-based pain pills in an ill-advised and potentially risky fashion as a result of inappropriate prescribing by their physicians. A major consistent problem – prescriptions written (and then often re-written) by physicians which ultimately provide for a duration of narcotic therapy which is outside of that deemed medically necessary/recommended to treat an acute pain situation. Another problem – the so-called “pill mills” where unethical physicians are essentially providing narcotic medications by “prescription for a price”, skirting the law by hiding under a very thin cloak of “providing medical care”.
Narcotic seeking patients also know that they can “doctor shop” and pick up multiple prescriptions for similar opiate type prescriptions simply by going from one doctor to another and different pharmacies, over and over. Florida is the state with the dubious distinction of being #1 in prescription narcotic use; Illinois wins the “best practices” award for being the lowest.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) monitors the sales of these narcotics by the pharmaceutical manufacturers to pharmacies, hospitals, and other dispensing facilities. The DEA reports that there has been a 300% increase in the sales of such narcotic products to these facilities over the past 10 years! That reflects a similar mirrored increase in the “legal” use of prescription pain medications by the consumer – the patients – for that same time period! This amounts to nothing more than “legally sanctioned” drug abuse. It seems quite clear that we really need to reel this all in…and fast. According to the DEA, in 2010 there were enough narcotics prescribed to medicate every adult American 24/7 for 30 solid days! Several new federal measures have been recently instituted and more have been called for in Washington. Improving the monitoring and accountability for the prescribing of opioids, narcotics, and similar pain relieving drugs is felt to be crucial to the solving (or at least the slowing down) of this concerning and pervasive problem.
Dr. Lyle Back is originally from New York City, receiving his medical and surgical training at Rutgers Medical School, Cooper Hospital – University Medical Center, and Ohio State. He is Board Certified in General Surgery (ABS) and Plastic Surgery (ABPS). He specializes in the full range of the most modern and state of the art cosmetic surgery procedures for the body and non-surgical cosmetic enhancement techniques available today.