The US makes up 4.6% of the world’s population, yet we consume 80% of the world’s opioid prescriptions. That means Americans consume 83 pain killers for every one the average person worldwide takes. An opioid is a form of palliative treatment that addresses symptoms, not intended to heal the cause. Basically, an opioid is synthetic heroin or opium. ABCNews.com writes about this in an article on the state of our healthcare system.
If you or a family member has ever had a serious injury or surgery, you may have your own real life example that proves how easily prescription meds are given and how addictive they are. Unfortunately, my own grandmother is a real life example. In the past couple of years, she’s broken her pelvis and multiple back vertebrae — all excruciating breaks. With each break, the hospital over prescribed OxyContin to the point that she was addicted and (literally) seeing bugs on the walls. Twice she had to go through the withdrawal process. After my grandmother’s first prescription med encounter, she and my family told the doctors what had happened the next time she landed in the hospital. We stated that she did not want powerful, prescription meds this time, but, we discovered, they gave them to her anyway.
The vast majority of these prescriptions are unnecessary. They’re hurting the health of the patient and driving healthcare costs. The solution to this problem in America? Ultimately, doctors must write fewer scripts and patients must feel empowered enough to question the need for these dangerous and highly addictive meds. Quality medical care management and utilization review programs can also help curb these incidents of excess with third party nurses and physicians reviewing patient treatment plans.