Prescription drug abuse is one of the leading health problems facing the state of Oklahoma right now. In 2012 the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotic reported that 534 residents died from prescription drug overdoses and over half of those were from medication prescribed by their own doctors. Over the last five years abuse of prescription pain medication has increased at an alarming and shocking rate in Oklahoma. Narcotic pain medication is the desired drug of choice for many of our residents, causing a higher than average number of deaths by drug overdose. The state must find out what drugs people are seeking and where they are getting the these drugs while offering steps to make getting them harder and providing mental health and addiction service to those who are addicted.
Many people may consider prescription drug abuse not a true drug problem. They equate illicit street drugs like marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack that we commonly hear about being drugs. Since pain medication is prescribed by a doctor, many feel that is not a drug but just a medicine. Although that may be partially true, when that medication that the doctor gives you is used too much or given to someone who the doctor never saw; that is prescription drug abuse. According to American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, the U.S. consumes 80% of the world’s pain medication while only having 6% of the world’s population.
Addiction to prescription pain medication is the overwhelming desire to seek and take more of the prescribed medicine for the recreational use rather than the intended medical purpose. The opiates in pain medication causes change in the brain in which it causes the user to need it for the feeling of euphoria rather than the relief of pain. Some doctors feel that it’s not an addiction but rather a physical dependence. They feel that many abusers can be weaned off the medication and not need mental health services. That theory is not adhered to very much. That may be due to the fact it’s not true or it’s unsuccessful in the treatment of addiction.
Many elderly patients are addicted to prescription pain medications and never know it. The prescribing doctor has had them on pain medication for numerous years, usually for arthritis pain and continues to increase the dosage when the prior dosage becomes ineffective. When the elderly patient either changes doctors or is switched to a non-narcotic pain medication, that’s when the patient becomes aware of their dependence to narcotic pain medications. According to Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, those over the age of 65 only account for 3.9% of prescription pain medication drug abuse. The CRC Health Group finds that 18 to 25 age group accounts for the largest group of abusers. The younger prescription drug abuser will eventually hit rock bottom or die from an overdose. Prescription drug abusers will cause families to breakup, end up going to jail and eventually losing their jobs if the...