Our Role as Health Care Providers in Drug Addiction

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Our Role, as Health Care Providers, in the Ever Increasing Drug Addiction Problem Donna Riddle Excelsior College Abstract Prescription drug abuse has become a problem of epic proportions in the United States and around the world. The largest types of drugs involved are opioid pain medications and narcotics. Prescription drug abuse rates nearly equal to abuse of illegal drugs. One of the major contributing factors for this is the easier availability in getting prescription drugs. It has become common practice to dispense prescription narcotics to treat reports of pain. Health care providers were being trained to believe that a patient’s pain is what they say it is and to treat pain as a fifth vital sign. This resulted in more frequent dispensing of narcotics. As tolerance develops to the medication, more is needed to obtain the same results. Larger doses are taken to achieve the same outcome. Since these medications have high dependence potential, this frequently results in addiction. This is true whether the initially reported pain was legitimate or over dramatized. The same cycle occurs in patients suffering from terminal illness. Regardless of good faith effort or not, the end result is often the same and there’s a link between health care providers and addiction. Deaths by prescription drug overdoses, rather intentional or accidental, have become alarmingly high. This cycle not only affects the patients who become an addict. It also affects patients who are denied adequate treatment of pain. It affects the people who are afraid of addiction and therefore won’t take pain medication when prescribed for fear of addiction. Health care providers need to be more aware of how their practices play into this problem. Providers need to put more emphasis on recognizing when someone is more at risk for addiction. Introduction

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