The addiction rate to opioids is out of control, and most commonly, they come in the form of pain pills. They are easy to carry, they stay pretty well, and if there is an aversion to needles, that can be a big plus as well. All of these are conveniences, but the real goal is to relieve pain.
What if they do not relieve pain, though? What if they are the cause of it?
Yes, it sounds crazy. After all, opioids are recognized as the greatest painkiller known to man—it is why we keep using it.
However, there is no question that they are very dangerous, and highly addictive. According to many addicts who have suffered from addictions to opiates and prescription pain pills, the withdrawal is no picnic.
Actually, that is an understatement. It is a horrible experience—one that actually can be quite painful physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
So what do doctors do? Often, they are required to treat the symptoms in addition to treating the cause of those symptoms. When the treatment causes further problems that could be life-threatening, one has to ask whether or not the pain the patient was dealing with at the time was worth risking addiction and death for the patient.
When looking at the pain pill epidemic in that context, things become a lot clearer. Initially, most (if not all) of these medications were targeted at people who were facing life-threatening illnesses, or were terminal in the first place. The decision for the doctor became, “Is prescribing the patient worth the risk of addiction? Considering they are terminal or in a life-threatening position anyways, sure—this is reasonable.”
However, we have moved away from that as a society. Instead, we embrace hyperbole. To use the same example as Louis C.K., the word “hilarious.” We use it everyday. However, nothing is actually hilarious, because to fit the definition, it would have to literally be so funny that it ruins your life and drives you into a state of madness.
What does that have to do with anything? We have taken a similar approach in just about anything. As doctors what happens when they ask patients what level their pain is on a level of 1-10. Without exception, every doctor commonly gets the response of “some number over 11.”
Frankly, no matter how bad our toothache might be, it is not even remotely comparable to having our arms and legs amputated without anesthetic, or some equally horrible-to-imagine scenario. Still, many of us fall into it.
Pain pills are quick and easy, though. Plus, most people do not develop an addiction to their meds. However, some do, and even though it is a small percentage of the total, that does not change the fact that there are a lot of people within that small minority.
In the end, it comes down to, “Is it worth it?”
What do you think? Are pain pills overprescribed, or are they essential to treating those in pain? Let us know in the comments below!