Dealing with prescription drug abuse and painkiller addiction is an especially difficult task. These substances are, in many cases, being prescribed by a doctor for necessary medical reasons. Because many people become addicted to these medications due to their outright need for pain relief, this type of addiction can be hard to treat due to three main challenges.
1. They Are Heavily Over-Prescribed
Doctors today are prescribing more narcotics and in higher quantities than ever before. This is partly due to claims from drug companies that they are non-addictive and safe for frequent use. Over the years, drug companies have worked hard to lift the stigma and fear of prescribing narcotics to those in need. In response, doctors are now prescribing them to treat even minor pain that could likely be treated without the use of narcotics.
2. Painkillers Are Providing Insufficient Treatment
While there are certainly people who can benefit from the pain-relieving properties of prescription drugs, many of those to whom the pills are prescribed don’t actually need them. Recent studies have shown that opioids may help only about half of the men and women to whom they’re prescribed. Yet, 100 percent of recipients are put at risk for addiction. Even those people who do benefit from these drugs often find only temporary relief.
3. It’s Difficult to Balance Needs and Risks
As mentioned above, there are people who are in extreme pain and who do need a strong narcotic to help their symptoms. But the difficult task at hand is to be able to accurately assess the need for the drugs compared to the risk of addiction. If dependence does occur, it’s very hard to find an alternative way to treat the underlying medical condition without furthering the existing addiction.