By Aiden Strawhun
A new study finds that roughly half of the people who have taken pain medications in the past year were not asked a vital question that could save their lives, from addiction that is.
According to a survey conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy, roughly one third of Americans have experienced substance abuse either themselves, or witnessed a family member at some point in life and these patients are reporting a grim fact about their prescribers. Doctors aren’t asking about substance abuse history.
This survey has found that almost half of the time, patients who are being prescribed opioid pain medications are not being asked about possible struggles with drugs and alcohol, be it from their own lives or in their family history.
Even in those who have no family history of addiction or substance abuse, opioids can still prove to be a risk factor, according to Sepalla. The effect of these medications is reportedly similar to that of heroin on the human mind and body; opioids have been known to be a gateway to heroin abuse for this reason.“There’s no bigger risk factor for becoming addicted to pain medications than a past personal or family history of issues with alcohol and/or other drugs,” Dr. Marvin D. Seppala said, Chief Medical Officer at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “As a medical community, we have to help the millions of patients with this risk factor mitigate that risk. There are many ways to do that, including utilizing more non-medication alternatives, enlisting extra support from loved ones, and prescribing smaller amounts at a time. But our first step has to be asking all the right questions in the first place. Many prescribers do, but as this survey indicated, too many still do not.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly two million Americans are meeting the criteria of opioid addiction, and it’s estimated that almost 36 million suffer from the abuse globally. Death by accidental overdoses has quadrupled since 1999, making it one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
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