Why Do Doctors Prescribe Addictive Prescription Drugs?

Why Do Doctors Prescribe Addictive Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs are often prescribed without information about side effects and complications

Many prescription drugs like Xanax are addictive when misused but still useful for treating a wide variety of illnesses. Although there are risks associated with several drug classes, the medical community still sees value in using them under the right circumstances.

Addictive Potential of Prescription Drugs

There are three classes of medications most commonly tied to addiction: opioid pain relievers, sedatives/tranquilizers and stimulants. While many people in the medical community believe only a small percentage of people are at risk for addiction, new research is changing that view.

Scientists who study addiction know certain substances change pathways in the brain altering the way people feel pleasure or pain. The most commonly addictive class of prescription drugs, opioids, are more likely to cause addiction than previously thought. It’s estimated that one-third of people who suffer from chronic pain are dependent on opioids according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. The article warns that physicians should deliberate more before prescribing addictive drugs like Xanax and points out that between 1999 and 2010 the number of overdose deaths related to opioids quadrupled, and during the same time period, the number of opioid prescriptions also quadrupled.

One reason more physicians began prescribing pain relievers in the early 21st century was a response to education efforts that called for actively treating pain from the American Pain Society, the Veterans Health Administration and the Joint Commission. While compassion for chronic pain sufferers is important, people in the medical community are trying to find a balance between pain management and possible future addictions.

Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse to drugs like Xanax is growing more common. While abuse of opioid pain relievers accounts for the majority of the problem, other medications are equally risky. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveals that prescription drug abuse is second only to marijuana use. Of the 2.9 million people who misused a drug for the first time, 26% chose prescription drugs compared to 66% who chose marijuana. In fact the survey shows more than one in four Americans started using a prescription drug non-medically that year. Of the 26% who began illicit drug use, 17% began with pain relievers, 4.1% with tranquilizers, 3.6% with stimulants and 1.3% with sedatives.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns there are dangerous side effects associated with misusing prescription drugs. Central nervous system (CNS) depressants (tranquilizers and sedatives) and opioids affect blood pressure and respiration and can lead to coma or death when combined with alcohol. Stimulants increase heart rate and blood pressure and in extreme cases can lead to strokes, seizures or heart attacks.

Even so there are valid medical reasons for a physician to prescribe these drugs. Opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, treat chronic pain and some patients only respond to certain pain relievers. Tranquilizers and sedatives treat anxiety and sleep disorders while stimulants treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity conditions.

Experts warn that many physicians are prescribing these drugs without giving patients enough information or prescribing them because a patient requests them. A Business Insider article describes situations where physicians are influenced by a patient’s request for pain medication and are more likely to prescribe the drugs like Xanax. Some industry watchers want physicians to get more education about the warning signs of addiction and learn more about appropriate drugs to prescribe to people who suffered with a past addiction.

Understanding the Risks of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are tools for treating many medical conditions, but there are often serious side effects. Patients and doctors must work together to understand the implications of taking drugs for long periods of time. As researchers understand more about the way drugs change the brain, it’s important that physicians update their prescribing practices to reflect the new information.

Need Help Finding Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction?

Addiction treatment must take into account the whole person mentally, physically and spiritually. While prescription drug addictions can be serious, there are many effective treatments that help a person cope with the effects of the disease. Since communication is such a crucial part of addiction treatment, it’s important that a person struggling with addiction knows there are many ways to achieve recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a prescription drug addiction, please call our toll-free helpline. Our addiction coordinators are trained to offer advice and provide guidance about the best possible treatment options. We help people overcome addictions with a philosophy that addresses the whole person. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day for advice. Don’t struggle alone. Call us today.

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If you are ready to beat a Xanax addiction and start a new life in recovery then we can help. We have admission counselors standing by 24 hours a day to take your email, live chat request, or phone call to get you in the addiction treatment center that best fits your unique & specific needs.