There is an increasing need for drug addiction treatment after reports showed that addiction to opioid painkillers has risen sharply over the last decade. Prescriptions for these strong pain medications have more than doubled over this time and there are concerns that the patients are becoming increasingly more addicted to these painkillers.
Dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine Dr Barry Miller said about the increased prescription of these drugs: While some of the increase can be attributed to an improved understanding of the effectiveness of these medications by medical professionals, we are concerned by reports of unnecessary prescription. He continues by saying: Our greater understanding of these medications can improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of patients in the UK living with complex pain. However, all NHS staff prescribing these medications need to ensure they are not doing more harm than good.
Martin Johnson, clinical lead for chronic pain at the Royal College of General Practitioners, is concerned about the amount of repeat prescriptions out there. He said those with other conditions such as diabetes were monitored while on medication, but it does not always happen for people with chronic pain. Individuals on repeat prescriptions for pain medication should also be reviewed at least annually. So many say painkillers dont do anything, but they keep getting prescribed them, he said.
How Do Opioids Work?
Opioids act on different parts the brain and nervous system, including the spinal cord, which receives the pain signals from the body and then relays them to the brain. This is where opioids work in order to decrease feelings of pain, even after an injury. One of the risks of these drugs is that they are addictive and patients complain of withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them.
Dr Jane Quinlan, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management at Oxford University Hospitals NHS foundation trust, said, For the majority of patients with chronic pain, opioids dont reduce their pain, but the side effects can significantly worsen their quality of life. Over time, opioids can actually make people more sensitive to pain.
An anonymous user added, I was prescribed tramadol for about three years for my ongoing back condition. I was addicted to them after a few months, it got to the stage where it became part of my routine. I suffered awful withdrawal when I stopped taking them. Without them, my pain was overwhelming.
What Are the Effects of Opioid Addiction?
Yasir Abbasi, a psychiatrist with Mersey Care NHS trust, said, Being dependent or addicted to prescribed painkillers can lead towards a slippery slope of illicit behaviour, which can pave the way for hardcore drugs. There are not enough non-pharmacological interventions available to reduce our reliance on opioid medication.
Cathryn Kemp, 45, from Hastings, an ex-addict said, I ended up in rehab after taking 60 fentanyl lozenges a day. I was very ill and eventually discharged with a repeat prescription for fentanyl lozenges. Ive since been told that fentanyl is 100 times stronger than heroin. At the time, I was told to take a maximum of eight lozenges a day. I was also on fentanyl transdermal patches 100mg ones, the strongest. That shows the level of pain I was in. Then one day I took an extra lozenge and after that my use of the drug spiralled.
Two years later I ended up in rehab after taking 60 lozenges a day all of them on prescription from my GP. I kept thinking I was in loads of pain and needed more.
At this stage, I was dangerously dependent. My GP said he would write me my last fentanyl prescription and I was forced to borrow lots of money from my parents and sell my cottage in order to pay for private rehab. My GP applied for NHS detox for me, but I was told that I was refused it because I wasnt homeless and I wasnt offending.
By then I knew I was going to die if I carried on, so I did whatever it took to get help. Coming off it I had to go through a pain barrier. The body stops producing endorphins, the bodys natural painkillers, because it is receiving opiates instead.
I lost everything. I had to leave work because I was so ill. I lost my relationship, my career, and my home I lost everything I had built up over my writing career. I nearly lost my life.
Where Can I Get Help for Drug Addiction?
UK Rehab has a helpline that is staffed 24/7 by trained and experienced staff who are able to help you find the treatment that you need whether it is private rehab or NHS facilities. We are in the position to answer your questions and give you the guidance and help you need to begin your journey to sobriety.
Prescription drug addiction is an invisible addiction and you need to be ready to admit that you have a problem with your prescription painkillers in order for the detox and the treatment to be effective. You have many options when it comes to the treatment of a drug addiction and it is important that you get help sooner rather than later if you are addicted to your prescription medication.
Source: (The Guardian) ‘Unnecessary’ painkillers could leave thousands addicted, doctors warn