A broken arm, joint or ligament damage to the knee, or a severe shoulder injury – any orthopedic trauma that results in surgery will also result in a prescription for painkillers for the patient 99 percent of the time. Unfortunately, a new study published in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery found that about 20 percent of these patients will end up “doctor shopping” after their surgery.
What is “doctor shopping”? It’s a term that describes the practice of seeking multiple prescriptions for addictive drugs from different doctors without disclosing that medicated treatment is already underway. This leaves patients with multiple painkiller prescriptions and far more pills than they need to simply manage the acute pain that comes after surgery.
Most patients who doctor shop do so because they would like to continue taking the pills after the prescription runs out, they don’t feel that their dosage is strong enough, or because they developed a dependence upon their prescription during the weeks they took the pills legitimately. No matter the reason, the practice of doctor shopping means that these people are likely taking too much of an addictive drug too often and putting themselves at risk.
The study found that patients who sought prescriptions for painkillers from multiple doctors took these medications for about 3.5 months on average. Comparatively, those patients who did not doctor shop only took the pills for about a month.
Painkiller use can be dangerous even when the pills are taken exactly as the doctor ordered. To knowingly abuse a prescription – even by taking the same dose for a longer period of time – is a serious issue and one that comes with unnecessary and life-altering risks, including:
- The development of an addiction
- Contribution to the development of someone else’s addiction or overdose
- Accident under the influence
Those who abuse painkillers often drink or use other drugs in combination with the pills, hoping to amplify the effects without realizing that those effects can be overwhelming. Additionally, simply keeping these kinds of medications around the house can trigger the abuse of these addictive drugs by others in the home who have access to them.
Additionally, there’s always the chance of accident or overdose. When people take the pills regularly, they may get used to them and believe themselves more capable under the influence than they actually are. It can mean driving while impaired, an overdose especially when the pills are taken in combination with other substances, or an accident.
Is Treatment Necessary?
There are a number of diagnostic guidelines that indicate the need for intensive treatment for substance abuse, but the bottom line is this: If your loved one is experiencing harmful consequences due to his drug use and he’s unable to stop using the drug of choice on his own, then treatment is needed to assist him.
The good news is that treatment works. Contact us at The Recovery Village today to discuss options for recovery for your addicted family member. We can help.