As prescribes again without thinking of the long-term abuse

As a
pharmacy assistant who works in an outpatient pharmacy, I witness every day to hundreds
of patients’ struggles. Some of them suffer from chronic illnesses which cause
the patient to become dependent on several medications, some of them have acute
illnesses, they get their emergency medications to get better and some of them
they don’t have any physical disease but unfortunately, they are just victims
of opioids.

            When I first started working in the
pharmacy, one of the patients came asking for his refill on his opioid
medication and when he was told that he didn’t have any refill and if he is in
pain he can visit the urgent care or ER. He started screaming, got angry and he
insisted to get his opioid. This was the very first incident that I witnessed
and made me do a research about the opioid prescriptions. And it was no
surprise that I found this epidemic invading the news “Opioid Overmedication”.

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If this patient visits his
doctor and starts screaming again asking for his opioid, convincing the doctor
he is in pain and the doctor then prescribes again without thinking of the
long-term abuse and addiction, patient will continue doing this. First step to
solve the opioid overmedication should be, the limit opioid prescriptions. If
the doctors initially don’t choose opioids as first choice treatment plan for
their patients and instead they try first the non-opioid alternatives, there
will be better consequences. The FDA has already approved several nonopioid
medications for the most common chronic pain conditions (JAMA, 2015). Second,
If the patient is already suffering from opioid addiction like this patient’s
case, doctors instead of continuing prescribing they should advocate the
patient to participate in addiction treatment program such as
Medication-Assisted Treatment. Studies have shown that one of the more
beneficial therapies is medication-assisted treatment (Athenahealth, 2017).  Medication-assisted treatment involves
prescription medication, counseling, and the support of family and
friends. The first method of treatment involves doctors giving patients opioids
— such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone — to prevent withdrawal
symptoms, thus helping to destroy the connection between taking a drug and
feeling high. The second method is patients are also given a non-opioid drug to
suppress the high feeling by blocking the receptors that cause that, so if
patients relapse, they won’t experience the same feeling. The first method
evidence was found to be more successive than the second one. And in both cases,
counseling helps patients deal with the psychological impacts of having a
substance use disorder. So why hasn’t this method of treatment become
widespread in the US? Because not too many physicians feel comfortable and confident
working with addictive patients says Scott Hadland, M.D., a pediatrician and
addiction specialist at Boston Medical Center.

As a future healthcare
leader, opioid overmedication matters, because first we don’t want our
healthcare to be abused, addictive patients and extra millions spent on
overmedication and early deaths. In 2009, almost half a million ER visits were
reported due to abuse or misuse of opioid medications. Yet, opioid medications
form a major factor to the drug related deaths and in the past ten years the
estimated number of ER visits related to the use of non-medical opioid pain
killers has doubled (In-training, 2015). Every day, ninety-one Americans die
from an opioid overdose. According to CDC, more than half a million-people died
due to drug overdoses between 2000 and 2015. Moreover, in 2015, the opioid
prescriptions cost 504 billion of dollars (Marketwatch,
2017). In order to reduce this high healthcare spending, we need to cut the
overmedication issue. However, no serious actions have been taken yet to
solve this problem and opioid related deaths continuing to increase in the
United States.

As health care leaders we
should advocate health care providers of the ways to prevent abuse and improve
patient safety by promoting the use of state prescription
drug monitoring programs. Also, we should take a role in preventing
the high-risk prescribing and preventing the opioid overdose by implementing and
strengthening the state strategies.

In conclusion, overmedication
is a serious healthcare issue in the United States, especially opioid
overmedication which is leading to more deaths every day. To overcome this
issue, prescribers should limit opioid prescriptions. Instead, try first the
non-opioid alternatives that doesn’t cause addiction and side effects. Also,
healthcare providers, should advocate the addicted patients to participate in
addiction treatment program such as Medication-Assisted Treatment. These are
basic ways to start controlling the problem. As health care administrators,
this is an important issue that we need to take care of it because we care
about the patients and the extra expenditure on health care services. Since
overmedication causes patients many health complications and early deaths. It
leads to continuous hospital readmissions and overconsumption of medical
services. Which in turn causes increase in health care expenditures whether
pharmaceutical expenses or medical services’ spending. We are losing billions
of dollars due to overmedication. Our goal is to minimize the waste in
healthcare, lowering the cost and increasing the outcome.

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