With the recent death of Whitney Houston, the focus, once again is directed to prescription drug abuse. We do not know what her cause of death was and as of this date there has not been a published toxicology report of the coronerís findings. However, since investigators have reported that they found several prescription drug bottles in her hotel room and because of her past history, many suspect that she died from an overdose of drugs.
When Michael Jacksonís cause of death was released, the world stood back and watched in shock. The world was in disbelief not because of Michael dying from prescription drug abuse but because he died at the hands of a licensed physician he trusted; one who took a sacred oath to never do harm to anyone.
Many healthcare professionals believe that the responsibility of prescription drug abuse falls on the individual and it is unfair for physicians to be to be ridiculed and punished for their patientís irresponsible behavior. Well I donít totally agree with that. I realize that a patient must be responsible when taking prescribed medications. However, if a physician foresees a patient exhibiting signs and symptoms of medication abuse, he or she must act accordingly to correct this problem.
Now letís even go a step further (this is a true scenario):
A patient had been referred to a cardiologist because of
experiencing heart palpitations and mild chest pain as well
as an inability to sleep. This patient had a strong family
history of cardiovascular disease and had recently lost a
family member from a massive heart attack. The physician
was aware of the patientís family history and after about 5
minutes of listening to the patientís complaints, he starts
writing a prescription; a prescription for Xanax and
Ambien. After he wrote the prescription he then proceeded
to auscultate the patientís heart and lungs. At the end of
the visit the patient was told by the physician that they
are suffering with anxiety and insomnia and should take the
medications as needed for their symptoms and return to
office in 30 days or sooner if needed.
So if this patient returned after 30 days to get refills and kept returning to get refills and the physician kept reordering these addictive drugs, who would be at fault? The patient may be somewhat responsible but the majority of the responsibility falls on the physician. Because just like the physician had the power to reorder these addictive drugs, he also had the power to discontinue them and address this addictive behavior!
Many people who abuse prescription drugs believe that they aren't doing anything wrong because their physician ordered them. But what must be understood here is that drug abuse is drug abuse; whether the drugs are prescribed or obtained elsewhere. According to the National Institute of Health, prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States, affecting more than 48 million people; ages 12 years and older. In 2010, over 7 million people were taking psychotherapeutic drugs such as tranquilizers, sedatives, pain killers, and stimulants, and what is contributing to prescription drug abuse is its increasing availability. From 1991 to 2010, prescriptions for stimulants increased from 5 million to approximately 45 million (900%) and from 75.5 million to 209.5 million (greater than 275%) for opioid pain killers. Did you know that 1 out of 12 high school students reported non-medical use of a pain killer called Vicodin and 1 in 20 reported abusing Oxycontin? Now whatís really sad is that 70% of these high school students say that they were given these prescription drugs from a family member or a friend. According to the CDC, more than 120,000 Americans are rushed to the emergency room every year from overdosing on opioid pain killers. CDC stresses the fact that prescription drugs are responsible for more than 26,000 deaths every year and the number of overdose deaths yearly from opioid pain killers, and opium like drugs (morphine and codeine) more than tripled the last 7 years.
The stats of prescription drug abuse and the effects of it are overwhelming to say the least. In certain circumstances, prescribed pain killers are needed but for short term use only. As naturopathic providers who look to God for guidance in their medical practice, we are the ones who will bring about the change needed to abolish prescription drug abuse. We are not under the ďquick-fixĒ umbrella! We practice medicine under Godís guidance and we extend His natural healing power. We are aware that chronic pain, anxiety, anger, insomnia, etc., have underlying causes that drugs can not erase. Therefore, it is our provision of medical care that allows us to look at the whole person and treat the actual disease; not symptoms alone. Rest assure that as long as we keep God in our practice, we are taking a stand against the prescription drug abuse dilemma!
Every aspect of life that man has taken God out of has suffered severe repercussions.............