To bring the deadly opioid epidemic under control, Narconon urges training of medical professionals who administer addictive pain medications.
It used to be that drug use and addiction was primarily a problem with the young. That is no longer true. New information reveals that more and more middle-aged Americans are joining the ranks of the addicted. And the source of the problem is not street gangs or cartels.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 44% of all overdose deaths in 2013 and 2014 were middle-aged Americans (45 to 64 years of age), an increase over prior years. And the proportion of adults age 50 and over entering treatment for opioid addiction has increased greatly over the last few decades.
The Wall Street Journal sums up the source of the problem: Inadequate training—of doctors.
Surveys of prescribers show that most doctors never get the training they need to prevent drug misuse or addiction. One survey of doctors by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University showed that two-thirds of them received only two hours or less of education on the diversion of prescription drugs (how these pills are diverted from proper medical use to those not medically necessary). A mere one-third of doctors considered their training on this subject adequate.
As Americans age, more of them experience injuries or surgeries and are in chronic pain. Because doctors have been indoctrinated since the mid-1990s to treat pain with opioids (thanks to the diligent efforts of pharmaceutical salesmen), painkillers including hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxycodone have been freely prescribed, along with anti-anxiety drugs to mask the worry of being alone and in pain.
While the young become trapped in addiction through “recreational” use of medications, or start with marijuana and migrate to pills for a “new experience,” middle-aged Americans are more likely to start on the path to addiction in a doctor’s office with a prescription for pain.
No Mandated Retraining for Doctors
Despite the fact that this runaway train continues to hurtle down the tracks at high speed, no official body has yet taken responsibility to mandate adequate training for medical doctors, dentists and other prescribers. For many, the only standards of care they know come from the pharmaceutical representatives who bring these addictive medications to their offices (along with lunch, free tickets, invitations to conferences in fancy resorts and other perks).
As long as prescribers remain ignorant of how to prevent addiction when treating pain, and their responsibilities in this vital arena, problems with opioids will persist.
Doctors need to know how to identify a drug-seeking patient and how to care for a patient who is dependent on pain medication. More than 700,000 doctors, nearly 200,000 dentists and 60,000 veterinarians (whose drugs may be diverted to human use) are in need of some form of training to prevent addiction. The sooner this is mandated and begins, the sooner this epidemic will begin to come under control.
For more information, visit Narconon.org.