Prescription opioid pain medications took the lives of almost 19,000 people in our country in 2014. This number 15 years prior to that was about 4000 in 1999! That is a 375% increase in 15 years. There are many reasons for the spike and they have been well chronicled. Things like “it must be safe because a doctor prescribed it” and “well it’s better than using heroin” are very common statements made by people who misuse these drugs. The problem, of course, is that the prescription written for these pain meds are only designed to be taken for the person in pain at specific intervals and only to manage severe pain. They are NOT meant to be given to other people and used recreationally.
This is not a new concept. Prescription drugs are now considered by many to be a “gateway” drug. Pharmaceutical companies have made lots of money by promoting the latest and greatest pill to cure what ails our country. In a recent meeting with some folks from a local emergency room, they indicated that over half of their ER visits were either OD scenarios or patients seeking pain meds. This was staggering to hear.
New Jersey has now decided to push lawmakers to enact a law whereby physicians can only prescribe a maximum of 5 day supply of opiate pain medication to a patient. This has been met with some resistance by members of the medical community although similar states have done this with some success. The fact is things need to change. The number of deaths is alarming. The heroin and prescription drug addiction rates are mind-blowing. Hopefully, by reducing the supply of prescription opiates, we can reduce the number of new cases of addiction. Lives are at stake.