Opioid Abuse Remains in the News and the Office

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while may recall previous posts discussing the difficult issues of prescription opiate abuse, chronic pain management, and Oxycontin abuse.  In the last two weeks I have seen two new patients seeking help for addiction to oxycontin.  Neither had ever been prescribed the medication, both were young males who bought the drugs illegally.  One even bought his own suboxone to help with his withdrawal syndrome.  I’m not the only one writing about this.  Valerie Ulene writes a monthly column in the LA Times as THE M.D. and in Jan. wrote about opioid pill abuse.  I especially like her one-liner “The pills may be prescribed, but the abuser’s behavior isn’t.”

By Valerie Ulene

January 11, 2010

THE M.D.

Opioid painkiller overload

Amid the weed scare there grows a thornier problem: the misuse of opioids. The pills may be prescribed, but the abuser’s behavior isn’t.

The local popularity of medical marijuana aside, the prescription drug of choice these days seems to be the opioid painkiller. And small wonder.

The medications are highly effective in controlling pain — whether from dental procedures, surgery, traumatic injuries or chronic conditions such as back pain and cancer. They’re remarkably safe when used properly. And they produce a sense of well-being — yes, a “high” — that makes them irresistible to millions of Americans who take them for relaxation or recreation.

And therein lies the problem. The risks of addiction and accidental overdose are far greater when the drugs are abused this way. Read more

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