It’s the topic of every news station around the nation. Misuse of prescription and illegal drugs are on the rise and no one is exempt from the bodily harm that these drugs bring on.Substances such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and painkillers such as ketamine are becoming common in the lives of many. Aggressive pharmaceutical marketing done by influencers does not help the epidemic either. Thankfully, we have so many ways to combat drug addiction. There are three parts to fighting drug addiction. These parts are education prevention, acute treatment, and long-term treatment.
Even President Donald Trump deserves a bit of credit here: He recently announced that a part of his salary will be donated to spread awareness about this epic crisis the US is grappling with. Education prevention goes far beyond learning about the drug after it has already had an effect on you or a family member. According to the CDC, almost 50% of all opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. involve a prescription opioid. With half of opioid deaths being from prescription, it makes us wonder what we are doing wrong. The issue that happens is that once people start using opioids to treat acute pain, they are more likely to continue to use it so that it can decrease their chronic pain. After a drug is used for so long, the body becomes used to it and so the doctors then continually increase the dosage to accommodate their hurting patient. It is not only the doctor’s job to educate us about the potential risks of taking a prescription drug, but it is our responsibility to take control of your own health. For example: according to the experts at luminance recovery, an Orange County Ketamine rehab center, the drug Ketamine started out being used as sedatives and pain relievers in clinics. However, due to it being misused in higher doses than required, it is causing long-term side effects such as memory loss, delirium, respiration depression and even death. It is important to note that this simple education can help those taking prescription opioids understand the severity of long-term opioid use. Hopefully, with this knowledge people may begin to search for safer long-term treatment options to manage chronic pain. We would add though that building a wall on the Mexican border is not exactly going to solve the internal challenge the US faces, namely addiction to prescribed drugs. In this sense, education is critical.
Acute treatment when discussing drug abuse is not something people want to talk about. Acute care is a branch of healthcare where a patient receives short-term treatment for a severe injury or episode of illness. This usually happens after an overdose. Acute care for an overdose is important because it is a time where the person taking the drug may for the first time realize that their addiction or prolonged use of a drug can lead to death. If education prevention fails and someone needs acute care, this is the perfect moment for them to have a breakthrough. During this time it is important for family, doctors, and friends to gather in support of the patient. Interventions and short-term monitoring may happen during this time. It is also during this time that it is important for the patient to realize that pills that seem safe- frequently are not. This is also a time where patients may recognize a need for change and put themselves in a rehab treatment program.
Since we know that almost 50% of opioid deaths are caused by prescription opioids we can infer that at least this percentage of the people with an addiction problem have, or claim to have chronic pain and that the reason they may be taking this drug is to ease that pain. Like I stated previously, this is why it is important for patients to find safer long-term alternatives to managing chronic pain. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Research over the last 30 years has shown that acute pain, for example, associated with injury, illness, or surgery is mostly due to changes in injured tissues. Chronic pain, in contrast, is mostly due to changes in the nervous system. These changes increase its sensitivity to the point that even harmless stimulation may be painful.” This is the primary reason that many hospitals are taking an interdisciplinary approach to treating chronic pain patients. Physicians, psychologists, counselors, nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists all join together to treat a patient’s behavioral and physical health. After successful treatment at a rehab center, it is important to continue to manage this pain through programs that can help desensitize the nervous system.
While drug use and overdoses are seemingly epidemics, there is hope. Through education and care, users can overcome their addictions…before it’s too late. Cleveland Clinic is a nationwide organization that takes the initiative to help people claim back their lives and break free from addiction.