Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Problem with Prescription Drug Abuse

There is a habit of discussing certain topics as it relates to health and wellness especially when someone famous suffers or dies as a result of the disease/illness only to hear about it happening again and again. Lately, we have heard many reports on the cause of death of Michael Jackson. It was not too long ago, we were following many months of coverage on the sudden death of Anna Nicole Smith. Shortly before her death, a distraught Anna Nicole was mourning the loss of her son Daniel, who also died of a drug overdose. Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and the list goes on and on with reports of high profile celebrities and other well known media personalities who have suffered from prescription drug abuse.

Of course, prescriptive drug abuse is not only for the rich and famous. Many patients find themselves dependent on some form of drug to alleviate the pain and suffering. At some point it becomes such a crutch that a patient refuses to try any alternative treatment to address the pain - even when it is determined that there is no medical reason why this person should continue to use the drugs. These drugs are addictive; they produce results that keep the user wanting more. They want to remain in that state of euphoria, pain free, escape reality.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that prescription pain killers now ranks second—only behind marijuana—as the Nation's most prevalent illegal drug problem. Yes, it is illegal. One might wonder how could it be illegal if it is prescribed by a physician. It is illegal because a drug that is prescribed by a physician or any other medical professional, who is licensed to prescribe drugs, has a duty to treat a patient for a specific illness keeping within the guidelines of the medical standards and the law.

Although there are many black markets that distributes and sells prescriptive drugs, a lot has to be said when a medical professional abuses their license which is to serve others through health care but instead try to profit from one's addiction. The motivation must be to have access to a celebrity that they would have never had the opportunity to meet and perhaps be invited to events where they can mingle and perhaps gain more clients. Unfortunately, it appears that the celebrities already have a list of physicians that they can call and in some cases, it may be quite difficult for one physician to know of the other making it even more complicated to monitor the health and wellness of the client. I purposely use the term client because I feel a patient would be one who is treated with the sole purpose of ensuring that they are given the best medical care to maintain a healthy long life. A client is one who as long as they have the money; the physician will fill the prescription.

No one wants to be in pain. However, no one really wants to die. They trust the physician to take away the pain, help them to sleep, help them to escape the stress that only they can describe and more importantly, keep them alive. Hopefully, this time with all the media attention that is currently surrounding the unexpected death of Michael Jackson will prevent physicians and other licensed health care providers to abstain from following the fortune and fame as you see what is has done. It not only destroys your reputation, potentially causes you to lose your license but it can be fatal - and it's all your fault. You have abused your position and abused your client. As a reminder, the Hippocratic Oath includes the following:

I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.

There is a problem with Prescription Drug Abuse - it destroys lives and devastates families on all sides.