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Opioid Abuse Perpetuated by Over-Prescribing

Opioid Abuse - The Bergand Group

It’s been long established that part of the crisis surrounding opioid abuse is doctors’ involvement. It can be difficult to see why these professionals might prescribe (and over-prescribe) these drugs in the first place, so let’s explore how that happens in order to better understanding where we stand today.

The Role That Doctors Play in Opioid Abuse

There has been a lot of discussion lately about our doctors: whether or not we still trust them, and how they come to give these painkillers out, still, despite the dangers. Though it’s obvious that there are many factors involved with the current state of opioid abuse, “physician behavior has played an important role in the development of this crisis and will continue to play an essential role in how it continues to evolve.”

How did this “pattern of overprescription” begin, and why does it still happen? There isn’t a single reason on which anyone can lay blame. A person’s doctor may offer them painkillers for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which is to manage chronic or other pain. Those doctors might be pressured by their patients to provide them with medications of one kind or another, and those doctors might “give in” because some patients will go elsewhere to ask for the same drugs, if denied.

Another “motivator” might be the influence from other doctors. If many of their peers don’t see the harm in prescribing X drug, then he or she may subscribe to that way of thinking. Studies from the 1970s suggested that “physician behavior is therefore influenced by social signals and not always governed by evidence, best practice, or guidelines,” which may help to explain why similarly-grouped areas of physicians all have similar thoughts (or, at least, practices) regarding the distribution of these pills.

What else has contributed to doctors’ role within opioid abuse? According to some, it’s cultural. In the past, higher levels of pain were “accepted” and relief from them was sometimes frowned upon. For better or worse, we are now more open with our pain and are more likely to report it, which may be a part of these more frequent prescriptions. Not only do people want an antidote for their pain, but most will push for the more immediate solution, the one with the quickest “benefits,” even if that also comes with consequences. This is why pills are the first thing on many people’s minds rather than alternative medicine.

Something else that certainly hasn’t helped in this situation is that “a variety of structural factors have created a situation in which doctors are poorly educated about pain management.” More than that, they’re so busy that they rarely are able to stop and consider for long whether or not a single patient actually needs the painkillers, or if another option might work. There isn’t enough time or education for this, and many just don’t think to ask the questions in the first place. Is the solution to open communication, to discuss it in a forum during some kind of continuing education?

There are no easy answers when it comes to addiction, and especially not within opioid abuse. We can only hope that doctors across the country will stand together and against this dangerous trend. If you want to learn more about the role that health professionals play within the opioid epidemic, then contact The Bergand Group. We offer recovery programs for yourself or for others or are seeking education materials about addictions. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction treatment and recovery center and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, including direction for those who may be denying an addiction.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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