The Mayo clinic states that the probability for abuse is low, if the pills are taken exactly as directed…and that is a big if! Anyone who has battled pain pills knows how seductive these medications can be, and when taking the legitimate dosage takes away the pain, and also makes you feel so good, it’s pretty easy to flirt with disaster by occasionally taking just a bit more than the recommended dosage.
Too often, occasionally upping the drugs leads to continually upping the drug, and before you know it you are hopelessly addicted to these medications originally prescribed to heal. It’s a complex issue, and these medications do serve a valid need for people with extreme pain, and often these medications are the difference between normal functioning, and chronic bedridden pain; and as such doctor’s groups have repeatedly lobbied against attempts made by drug regulatory agencies to increase monitoring and regulations to access. Doctor’s say that any increased regulations will make it too hard for legitimate pain patients to get the medications they need for their very real pain needs.
So what’s to be done?
It seems clear that these medications do serve an important role in the pain management for many, but they also prove debilitating and addictive to millions, surely there must be some middle ground. I feel that the responsibility for the alleviation of the problem should ultimately begin with doctors, and they must start to prescribe these addictive drugs with less frequency. Using risk assessments such as issued by the Mayo clinic as a basis for a decision to prescribe powerful pain pills does not seem to be working, and while it is true that when used exactly as directed the risk of addiction is low, we cannot and should not ignore the reality of the situation.
Millions of people rely on these pain pills every day just for normal functioning and these people are hopelessly addicted, suffer many of the social and health problems associated with an addiction to any drug; and this must be regarded as powerful evidence requiring a change in our current pharmacological practices. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that ignoring the reality, and ignoring human nature is naive. If you give 100 children a box full of cookies, and tell them to eat just one every four hours…some may follow the instructions, but a lot sure won’t; and it seems that even as we age into "responsible" adults, we don’t change too much when temptation and pleasure is involved.
People in every society in the world get high, it’s in our nature, and doctors must consider the possibility for abuse versus the real requirement for medication when evaluating a person’s true need for pain pills. I was addicted to pain medications; and while I was in pain, and the medications prescribed worked very well for that pain, the pain they ultimately caused was far worse than pain they healed. I could have survived with less potent and less addictive medications, and while it would have been slightly less comfortable at the time, it would have been far better in the long run.
If someone has unbearable pain, then surely they need access to the best possible medications, but if the pain can be managed through any other means, perhaps addictive pain medications are not the best or safest choice.