Sunday, June 25, 2017

Addiction - The Big Circle

The Big Circle of Addiction and Dependency

A friend who works in healthcare recently shared an experience of a patient screaming that the patient was in pain and needed pain medication.  My friend knows the history of the patient.  The patient is often called a “drug seeker”.  Someone who is addicted and wants “drugs”.

People in healthcare, my friend explained, rarely have sympathy for drug seekers especially when they are disruptive and loud as this patient was.  The people who were working needed to tend to other patients and the other patients needed peace and quiet – not a screaming drug addict.

I listened and understood what I was hearing, yet I don’t like it. 

We can’t force someone to feel bad for others.  Although we can expect people to treat people with dignity.  I assume this happened.  Let me share my point of view.

In many case (of course not all) people become addicted or dependent following an injury, surgery or other medical reason.  I have been with patients at discharge when they were handed a prescription for pain pills with no discussion about the potential dangers of becoming addicted.  The patient is taking the medication and becomes addicted.  Now they are back in the hospital looking for more. It’s a big circle of blame the patient.

When I hear about high school education teaching young people about becoming addicted to drugs, I am confident that no one thinks it can happen to them.  (I know I don’t believe I would become addicted even though I was addicted to cigarettes and swore I could quit for years before I was able to).

What we can be teaching young people, as I have been doing, is about medication “errors” - mistakes in medication such as look-alike sound alike drugs – nail glue vs eye drops, Clearasil looks like teeth whitener, and generic vs. name brand and yes, pain pills available that you may not need.

In the news I hear over and over someone mention that they started on the road to addiction after root canal, surgery or a broken bone.  It’s never discussed further. Education must start BEFORE the prescription is written.  Or yes, they will be back.

It looks like I have some new material for the Family Centered Patient Advocacy Training coming in October.

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