Prescription medication has important benefits when used correctly, but misuse of prescription medication can result in undesirable side effects. Side effects may include losing months or years trapped in an unfulfilling cycle of addiction. In 2016, over 1,000 Australians experienced the permanent side effect: death. Just because a pill can be prescribed for some people in some conditions doesn’t mean it’s safe to take without specific approval. It’s a slippery slope from just one unprescribed pill “to take the edge off” to physical and psychological dependence coupled with denial. At both a social level and a personal level, we need to take a look at how to fight prescription drug addiction.
Deaths from accidental overdose on prescription drugs, particularly painkillers such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and fentanyl are on the rise around the world. According to a recent report from the Australian National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, 1,045 people in Australia died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Comparing past death rates, we can see a dramatic increase in the rate of opioid-induced deaths over the last decade, rising from 3.8 to 6.6 deaths per 100,000 Australians from 2007 to 2016. Over three-quarters of all drug overdose deaths involved pharmaceutical opioids.
Restricting Prescriptions In Australia?
The problem in Australia is not yet as severe as it is in the US, where over 71,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017. Australian policymakers are taking steps to try to ensure Australia does not catch up. Prior to January 2018, codeine was available in some over the counter medications in Australia. Now all medications containing codeine require a prescription.
Furthermore, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering limiting prescriptions of stronger opioids to specialists. General practitioners would no longer be allowed to prescribe oxycodone, for instance.
Advocating Alternatives To Opioid Pain Medication
A recent Monash University study indicates that around 2 million Australians begin taking prescription medications every year. Risk of addiction for many patients can be eliminated by trying acupuncture, physiotherapy treatments, and non-opioid pain relievers first and avoiding opioids altogether.
A recent study entitled “Reducing Opioid-related Harm” undertaken by the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia indicates that institutional practices create unnecessary risk. In order to save time, over 60% of hospitals studied automatically wrote take-home prescriptions for departing patients prior to the time of their discharge. Tht means they wrote the prescriptions without knowing if the specific patient was experiencing any pain. In fact, even patients who did not require any pain medication in the two days prior to their discharge were likely to receive a prescription. Over 70% of hospitals routinely supplied such patients with opioids to take home “just in case” they might need them. As a result, a lot of unneeded pills end up in medicine cabinets, creating a risk of abuse.
Avoiding Fatal Overdose
According to drug researcher Dr. Amy Peacock of UNSW, the most effective strategy for reducing overdose deaths is helping people get access to opioid substitution therapy and supporting people to get into and stay in treatment. Dr. Peacock also recommended that people who are close to opioid addicts learn how to use naloxone and carry it. Naloxone is available over the counter and can be easily administered to temporarily reduce opioid overdose effects allowing time to seek more complete medical attention.
So if you think someone you care about has an opioid problem, you can carry naloxone and possibly save their life. But what about when you are not there? That’s scary, isn’t it? The good news is, there is hope. Every year, thousands of addicts get clean and sober.
Recognize You Or Someone You Know Has A Problem And Take A Step Towards Recovery Today
You know that you -or someone you know – has a problem. That is why you are here reading this. You know it will be hard to fix, but we are here to tell you: you can do it and we can show you how. Take the first step on the road to a better life. Learn more about our Rehab Program in Bali for recovering from addiction and make a plan.
If you or someone you care about has a problem with prescription drugs or alcohol or any other form of addiction, call one of our experts today on (toll-free Australia) 1800 288 348 or +62 8124678 or email us at [email protected] and we will call you.