Hold prescribing physicians responsible for educating patients verbally and in writing on the dangers and risk of dependency every time they write a prescription for potentially addictive medication
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Imagine this: You need help. Logically, you consult your physician. As the patient, you might find yourself taking a prescribed medication to assist you in the healing process. After all, you are following the advice provided by your medical professional. However, did your physician clearly explain the risks associated with taking this prescription? Most likely, he or she did not take the time to do this. Therein lies a major problem that has touched and consequently destroyed so many lives.
The disease of addiction knows no boundaries and does not discriminate. It does not care how much money you make, what job you have, or your level of intelligence. It does not care about religion, morals, or beliefs. It does not care about your race, age, or gender. Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer.
Research shows prescriptions for potentially addictive medications have skyrocketed along with the drug use disorders that accompany them. Currently, there is no law holding a prescriber accountable for verbally educating patients on the dangers of the drugs he or she is prescribing. Many people do not realize the risks that these addictive drugs impose and most are not aware of the signs of withdrawal or addiction. Patients need to be educated on exactly what they are putting in their bodies and cannot just assume it is safe because a doctor prescribed it. Furthermore, doctors cannot just assume that each patient will carefully scrutinize and comprehend all of the contraindications of each prescription he or she writes.
People must be better educated on the potentially addictive medications they are ingesting. The information must start with the prescriber so that patients can make informed decisions and clarify any confusions prior to taking the first dosage.
Patients have a right to know which is why we need to demand that our legislatures create the Just Say Know Law. This law would require all prescribers to explain, both verbally and in writing, the risks and potential for abuse, addiction, withdrawal, and tolerance every single time they write a new prescription for any medication that has the potential for abuse or addiction. In addition, prescribers need to be knowledgeable in where their patients can get treatment for any substance use disorder. Both patient and prescriber would be required to sign a document stating that this conversation took place and both parties are aware of the risks associated with the particular prescription. Failure to comply with this law would result in fines and even suspension of licenses for the physician involved.
Here are some startling facts that highlight the need for this law:
• In 2010 enough painkillers were prescribed by health care professionals to medicate every adult in the US for an entire month straight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 1/13/15. Available http://www.cdc.gov/injury/about/focus-rx.html).
• After marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medicines account for most of the top drugs abused by 12th graders in the past year, according to the National Institute of Health 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey (drugs.com. Prescription Drug Addiction - Top 18 Facts for You and Your Family. 2014. Available: http://www.drugs.com/slideshow/prescription-drug-addiction-1075#slide-3).
• About 12 million American teens and adults reported using prescription painkillers to get “high” or for other nonmedical reasons (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 1/13/15. Available http://www.cdc.gov/injury/about/focus-rx.html).
• Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs more than $72.5 billion each year in direct health care costs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 1/13/15. Available http://www.cdc.gov/injury/about/focus-rx.html).
• Every day 6,748 people are treated in emergency departments for the misuse or abuse of drugs (Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescription Drug Overdose in the United States: Fact Sheet. 1/9/15. Availablehttp://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html)
• From 1999 through 2011, the rate for prescription painkiller deaths almost quadrupled (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 1/13/15. Available http://www.cdc.gov/injury/about/focus-rx.html)
• In 2013, more people died of overdose from prescription painkillers than from illegal drugs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Vital Statistics System mortality data. (2015) Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/deaths.htm.)
• Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2012. Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle crashes (Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescription Drug Overdose in the United States: Fact Sheet. 1/9/15. Available http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html)
Please support this worthy cause! Perhaps this problem has not touched your life…yet. This law would take steps to ensure that it never does.
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