A recent study suggests that physician over prescribing is fueling the opioid addiction crisis facing North America, and that this problem goes much deeper than just recreational drug use. Many people who end up addicted to opioid drugs start this destructive cycle with a legitimate prescription for pain. This abuse of physician practices needs to be the focus of new prevention efforts. At the same time it is important for people to have options in order to control severe or chronic pain. In many cases there are pain management medications and methods that do not involve the use of opioid medications, and these can work very well for many patients who need pain relief. Some physicians use opioid drugs as a first resort instead of trying other measures first, and this is helping to fuel the rising rate of addiction on these medications.
According to the lead author of the study, Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University researcher Dr. Andrew Kolodny “We need to prevent new cases of opioid addiction and we need to expand access to treatment for the millions of Americans who are already addicted. Without better access to addiction treatment, overdose deaths will remain high and heroin will keep flooding in.” This means that preventative methods need to include oversight to prevent physician over prescribing of opioid drugs, and additional treatment options and facilities need to be developed. Some physicians refer patients who have chronic or severe pain to specialty pain management clinics, refusing to prescribe strong narcotics under any circumstances.