According to The Waismann Method® Opiate Dependency Survey, seventy-one percent of patients with opiate dependencies admit they were originally prescribed medication by their physicians, reflecting almost no change from 70 percent last year. The results indicate that, despite increased caution by physicians and more stringent consequences against those that over prescribe, legitimate and monitored use of opiate-based painkillers can still result in a physical dependency, according to Dr. Michael H. Lowenstein, MD, medical director for Anesthesia Assisted Medical Opiate Detoxification Inc. (A.A.M.O.D.) and practitioner of the Waismann Method®.
Many people who receive prescribed painkillers are under the false assumption that because they came from their doctors, they are safe . The results of our survey illustrate the disturbing trend that an overwhelming number of dependencies start from a legal prescribed painkillers. It is clear that steps to curb this problem have not been successful, and the medical community is failing in its efforts to educate patients of the potential hazards of taking opiate painkillers. Doctors are continuing to over prescribe medication with severe repercussions to patients.
Respondents of the survey sought treatment for dependency to a variety of prescribed painkillers, with OxyContin ® being named the most frequently abused of the drugs.
“Our typical patient is taking 300 mgs of OxyContin ® a day,” said Dr Lowenstein, “Many people don’t realize that amount is equivalent to about 60 pills of Vicodin. The magnitude doesn’t register when that amount of narcotic is prescribed in only a few pills.”
Popular painkillers Vicodin ®, Percocet ® and Norco ® also ranked high on the list. Of respondents taking prescription painkillers, 57 percent obtained their medication from only one doctor. In addition, while 95 percent felt that the instructions for use were clear and easy to understand, only 55 percent felt the directions were actually enforced by their doctors. Seventy percent were taking more than their doctor originally prescribed when they realized they needed help to stop taking the pills.
“Painkillers like Vioxx ® and Celebrex ® were taken off the market in response to serious questions about their safety, resulting in fewer options available to treat pain,&rdquo. “Doctors are again turning to well-known narcotics to treat pain, which means we will likely see an increase in dependency and abuse.”
Additional findings of The Waismann Method® Opiate Dependency Survey include:
- Seventy-five percent of respondents with dependencies did not seek help from the doctor who prescribed their medication.
- Back pain was the most common ailment reported as the initial motivator to taking painkillers, reported by 52 percent of those with painkiller dependencies.
- Twenty-seven percent of those with painkiller dependencies purchased pills on the Internet.
- Eighty-six percent of respondents with painkiller dependencies said their opiate use did not lead to recreational drug use.
- Thirty-nine percent indicated that they have been dependent for three years or more.
- Withdrawal symptoms were the primary reason that respondents failed in previous attempts to end their dependencies.
- Twenty-nine percent of respondents turned to multiple doctors to get prescriptions for painkillers.
The problem of painkiller dependency has become rampant, but the evolution of drug treatments has not caught up,as it should. Prolonged use of opiates or other narcotics generates a chemical imbalance in the brain creating a physical disease. Medical practitioners and patients need to recognize that physical dependency must be treated medically, followed with an appropriate psychological assessment. Traditionally patients have been treated with the assumption that their addiction is a psycho-social problem rather than a physical chemical imbalance in the brain.
Clare Waismann, administrative director for the Waismann Method, added: “It is important to remember that opiate physical dependency is primarily a medical disease, and psychological issues cannot be diagnosed properly while patients are under the influence of narcotics. Patients are often directed to inappropriate treatments that don’t address the physical nature of their problem. Instead their personalities are blamed and they are labeled, removing all hope and self esteem, which is crucial for a successful recovery.”