Opioid Prescription Adds to Growing Drug Abuse Menace

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioids are medications that relieve pain. These drugs reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. But, from a random prescribing of opioids the threat of gross abuse also looms large on the society.

At least 44 people die every day in the United States as a result of prescription opioid overdose, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2013. Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes,” it states.

These are indeed petrifying figures. Urging doctors to curtail prescribing random opioids, the CDC says, “An increase in painkiller prescribing is a key driver of the increase in prescription overdoses.” America is in the grip of an epidemic of drug abuse, and the prescription drug abuse helpline numbers are busier than ever.

Even the governments – both federal and in states – have been worried the way drug overdoses, mostly of prescription opioids, have been claiming lives across the U.S. The Obama administration has been doing all it can to curb the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

“So I hope we can work together this year on some bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse. So, who knows, we might surprise the cynics again,” said President Obama in his final State of the Union address in January 2016.

Apart from rehabs offering prescription drug addiction treatment help, everyone can contribute towards eradicating this evil plaguing our society. As per the CDC, the federal government is largely contributing towards this endeavor by lending support to the states that want to develop programs and policies to prevent prescription painkiller overdose. It is also ensuring patients’ access to safe and effective pain treatment.

“The Obama administration this year proposed $133 million in new spending to curb overprescribing, increase the amount of overdose data collected and expand access to Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose. In August, the administration announced an initiative to pair drug enforcement officers with public health workers to trace heroin routes, and it tightened prescribing rules for a popular painkiller,” said an article in The Washington Post in October 2015.

Even health care providers can contribute towards this. As outlined by the CDC, they can:

  • Use prescription drug monitoring programs to identify patients who might be misusing their prescription drugs, putting them at risk for overdose.
  • Use effective treatments such as methadone or buprenorphine for patients with substance abuse problems.
  • Discuss with patients the risks and benefits of pain treatment options, including ones that do not involve prescription painkillers.
  • Follow best practices for responsible painkiller prescribing, including screening for substance abuse and mental health problems.
  • Avoid combinations of prescription painkillers and sedatives unless there is a specific medical indication.
  • Prescribe the lowest effective dose and only the quantity needed depending on the expected length of pain.

Everyone has a role to play in curbing the spread of prescription drug abuse. Creating awareness about not using opioids beyond the prescribed limit, not sharing prescriptions with others and disposing of unused medicines, etc. will help to a great extent. As parents and guardians there should be a constant tab on children about their unusual activities. Opioids prescriptions should be kept away from their reach.

Is There a Good Panic Attack Drug?

A panic attack drug or any type of panic attack medication can be useful, but you need to understand just what they do and how they work. If you are hoping for a drug to stop a panic attack once it starts, you are out of luck. Medications simply do not act that fast.

A typical panic attack comers out of the blue and peaks in around ten minutes. Sometimes there are some symptoms that may persist for quite a while, especially the fear of another attack. So a medication might be helpful in reducing the lingering after effects but once an anxiety panic attack starts, a medication won’t help. The time is too short.

Several classes of panic and anxiety attack medication exist in both prescription and natural herbal supplement forms. Since very few alternative or herbal medicines are ever put through the Federal Drug Administration testing programs, they are classed as dietary or food supplements. Some people find herbal anti-anxiety, calming and nerve tonic supplements work well for them. If you happen to be one of these, count yourself very lucky.

The most commonly prescribed medications fall into two classes. First, the benzodiazepines which are tranquilizers – a common one is aprolazam (better known as Xanax). These act to reduce your day-to-day anxiety levels which hopefully reduces the incidence or severity of any anxiety or panic attack. The problem is that these drugs tend to not only make the world at least a little fuzzy but they are linked to dependence and addiction. As such they make a poor long-term solution. Getting hooked on a drug is probably not the outcome you want.

The most commonly used panic attack drug comes from the anti-depressant class called SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Once thought to have relatively few long-term side effects, more experience with this class of drug has revealed sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction and weight gain as some of the more disturbing longer term side effects. There are also a variety of early onset side effects including agitation, nausea, diarrhea and headaches though these will normally cease in 2 to 3 weeks. And they do not work for everyone either. in that case, doctors will often try one of the benzodiazepines.

As you can see there is no magic take-me pill that will eliminate an anxiety panic disorder. Even with the use of medication, additional forms of treatment are needed. The most successful psychological treatment methods are behavioral and cognitive techniques. Basically these involve learning to modify your behaviors and thoughts to rapidly eliminate an attack or reduce the severity significantly. Since some of the most negative effects of a panic disorder are caused by the sense of fear and helplessness it makes people feel, these kinds of action steps can make a huge difference. Since much of this is a matter of learning, training and practice, thousands have used these type of behavioral and cognitive techniques without the expense involved in paying a psychotherapist week after week and month after month.

In a very real sense, taking action is the best panic attack drug that exists.

10 Ways to Be Safe and Minimize Adverse Drug Reactions With Your Prescription Drugs

In a previous article I stressed the importance of knowing what you are taking regarding medications, i.e., knowing why, potential side effects, etc. This is because about double the people who die in automobile accidents in the US die from ADR’s (adverse drug reactions): somewhere close to 100,000 a year in the US alone. As a follow-up I interviewed an experienced pharmacist. Here are 10 solid recommendations based on my own experience and research, and that interview.

1. Know at least the top 5 most common and(or) most dangerous side effects for every medication you take and be vigilant as to the first signs of each. For example one of the bipolar drugs popular nowadays has a rare but dangerous skin condition associated with it. If you were taking that drug for bipolar illness and developed even a minor rash it would be wise to report to your doctor immediately.

2. Keep an updated list on a folded 3×5 card marked boldly on the outside “for medical emergencies.” Drug interactions are common and if for instance you are taking certain antidepressants and are given a certain very common IV narcotic for pain or anesthesia if when for example, you were brought unconscious to a hospital after a car wreck, you could die instantly.

3. If you take generic drugs (not identified by the original trade name but only the generic name), as most people do when they’re available, always get them from the same pharmacy. Different generic versions of the same drug have different carrying compounds from which pills or tablets are made. This can drastically change the way the same dose of a given drug can act in your system.

4. Use one pharmacy for all your medications so they will have a complete database on you and so their system will flag a warning if there’s a potential harmful interaction between two drugs for instance, if they were prescribed unknowingly by two separate physicians.

5. Be very wary of online pharmacies. Some are legit branches of established real-world pharmacies but others are fly-by-night selling everything from useless imitations to repackaged expired ones.

6. Take your medications exactly as prescribed and at the same time each day. This will establish a reliable pattern of blood medication levels and make you more acutely sensitive if something is amiss.

7. Always double check the pill size on new prescriptions. Wrong pill size is the most common prescribing mistake made by both doctors and pharmacists. Be aware of the “usual” size and color and identifying numbers or letters on each pill you take. Taking just twice the dose (or half) from the wrong pill can lead to very dangerous conditions for many common medications.

8. Always read the label on over-the-counter medications to be sure none of your drugs are on their taboo list. This is especially true for pain-pills and cold-remedies.

9. Drink 8 glasses of water a day for two reasons: first, it keeps digestion and uptake of your medications consistent and reliable and second, many prescription drugs have side effects related to the vascular system that will become more pronounced even if you’re mildly dehydrated.

10. Take the little warning stickers regarding driving, operating machinery and using alcohol very seriously. They’re usually there because someone somewhere got very messed up because they didn’t either follow their doctor’s warning, or never got warned at all.

Be safe. Better knowledge means better care decisions regarding your medications. You must be active in the process of your own care.