Check any obituary of a young person. It almost always lists heroin overdose as the cause. And going further, these heartbreaking obits describe the path to heroin beginning with treatment for an injury.
|Pain is a brain condition. Learn about your brain HERE!|
As the number of U.S. prescriptions for opioids doubled over a 15-year period from 105 million in 1998 to 207 million in 2013, the number of fatal overdoses from the drugs soared almost five-fold, from 4,000 deaths a year in 1999 to nearly 19,000 in 2014. That includes people who illicitly used prescription opioids and those who overdosed on pills prescribed for them.
The problem has been building since the 1990s when a shift occurred in pain management. While traditionally medical professionals avoided opioids for any pain treatment, many doctors began using these medications a quick solution to a patient's pain.
"There was an entire movement and I was being told that we had an unrecognized epidemic of pain in America," Dr. Joseph Zebley told PBS NewsHour. "I think I, like many others, were fooled into at least partially believing that and starting to write prescriptions more liberally."
Amid the growing epidemic, many doctors also don't learn much about pain management while in medical school. A 2011 study found that during four years of training, a typical U.S. medical student spends only nine hours learning about pain.
In turn, some in the medical community, with increasing pressure from regulatory agencies and policymakers, are re-examining their approaches to pain management and how it's taught.
Comprehensive pain management is much more complex than just writing a prescription. The plan can include opioids when necessary. But the comprehensive approach also involves listening to patients, thinking creatively about treatment options, and working with doctors focused on different disciplines.
--Source: PBS NewsHour