New research shows that some physicians are still struggling with understanding the dangers of overprescribing narcotic painkillers and the mechanism of addiction regarding the opioids. Researchers out of Johns Hopkins University recently polled 1,000 doctors and found that half of them believed that if they prescribed tamper-proof painkillers the chance of abuse is eliminated. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Someone who is prescribed a painkiller like OxyContin, which has a tamper-resistant coating, can still abuse the drug. Tamper-resistant mechanisms were developed to prevent people from crushing the pills and snorting them or injecting them. However, a person who is prescribed these pills can still abuse them, even if simply taking more than the prescribed amount.
“Doctors continue to overestimate the effectiveness of prescription pain medications and underestimate their risks, and that’s why we are facing such a public health crisis,” explained Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. Despite the new safety measures that are being instituted by pharmaceutical manufacturers, people who are taking painkillers are still at risk of abusing them.
The survey showed that a surprisingly large amount of doctors believe that addicts do not take pills orally. However, other studies have shown that the vast majority of prescription drug abusers do take pills by mouth. The information gathered from the survey of doctors shows that increased measures need to be taken in order to further educate the medical community about the nuances of addiction. Many addicts continue to get their drugs from doctors who are fooled into thinking that they have a legitimate complaint and warrant prescription painkillers. It will take the combined efforts of doctors, pharmacists, law enforcement and of course treatment and prevention professionals to significantly reduce the prescription painkiller problem in our country.