I was prescribed several types of pain medications, when I broke my leg in an auto accident. The removal of pain medicines, during a frustrating series of surgeries, was the most difficult transition I have ever experienced. Learning that deaths due to overdose by prescription drugs is rising at an exponential rate did not shock me. There were times when only pills stopped the extreme pain. Those pills convinced me that I could perform normal everyday tasks after months of bed-rest.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control in July of 2013, “Deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses among women have increased more than 400% since 1999, compared to 265% among men.” Health care advice quickly reverts to the tried and true (although unproven in validity) talk to the patient about pain management options. The problem with this advice is lack of action, lack of support services. Hasn’t brain science shown that opioid addiction is a physical rewiring of the thought process, which eliminates the patient’s ability to choose other options?
Efforts to access health care in the U.S. are multifaceted and confusing. This is most apparent in the realm of mental health and substance abuse treatments. An interesting example is found in this research of the Centers for Disease Control. This research shows that deaths caused by opioid drug abuse among women are increasing. If health care were offered equally, would women be more likely to abuse, misuse, or die as a result of taking this medicine?
The CDC has exposed a pharmaceutical disaster. The ever increasing threat of heart disease, obesity, and cancer makes the future of health care management a difficult subject. However, the costs of health care could be minimized with an emphasis on prevention. Prevention could remedy a lack of continuum of care resources. In the future, media messages regarding prescription drugs must focus on safety, rather than profit. The exposure to marketing images of prescription drugs that solve everything wrong with society is misleading.
Prevention of prescription drug abuse must include a continuum of care process for pain management. Deliverable goals such as increased mobility, productive work life, and secure relationships of support need to become what health care providers do. One ten minute visit with a doctor is not enough to support a patient with substance abuse problems.