Prescription Drug Abuse

New Study Finds Many Patients Unclear About Prescription Drug Addiction Risk

Educating Patients on Risks of Prescription Drug Addiction

Pill Addiction 2When you experience a health emergency, a visit to the hospital emergency room may be necessary. Though emergencies can take many forms, one of the leading prescribed drugs in hospital ERs are opioid painkillers. Despite the fact that prescription drug addiction continues to be a serious problem in our country, the powerful painkillers are routinely handed out because they are so effective in treating pain. A new study suggests that many patients receiving those drugs may not be fully aware of the risks involved in using them.

The Northwestern University study learned that 25 percent of patients in the ER don’t realize that opioid drugs are addictive. The other 75 percent of ER patients believe that there is an addiction ris k associated with using prescription painkillers. One quarter of patients is a significant proportion given the gravity of the risk. Researchers say that one way to bring that percentage down would be for doctors and nurses to spend more time dialoging with patients about the facts and risk associated with prescription painkillers.

For their research, investigators used 174 previously gathered patient responses accumulated during a longer and randomized study. The patient subjects had all been to the emergency room and been given a prescription for painkillers that combined acetaminophen and hydrocodone (like Vicodin). Several days later the patients were contacted and asked directly whether or not they considered their pain medication addictive.

The responses given reflect a patient population unclear about the true facts of prescription drug addiction. Many responses were based on personal experience or the words of others. Considering the fact that drug overdoses kill more Americans than car crashes and that 50 percent of those overdoses are linked to prescription drugs, it’s important to educate the public about the risks of prescription drug addiction.

If you or someone you care about has a problem with prescription drugs, help is available. Contact us at Family Guidance Center; we have experience helping countless others.