More than 15,000 Americans die every year from prescription opioid overdoses. Thousands more struggle with addiction to these powerful drugs that were originally prescribed to treat injuries or chronic pain.
Among injured and disabled people, the risk of becoming addicted to prescription painkillers is very high. Addiction is not a failure of character or willpower. These drugs are highly addictive – even when taken as prescribed.
Over time, people taking painkillers may find they need higher dosages to dull the pain. Or they may find their pills don’t last as long or they don’t help the pain at all. Patients also may experience withdrawal symptoms, including muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes and, most dangerously, slowed respiration that can lead to death.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these affects, please get help immediately from a physician or addiction specialist. Do not try to kick the addiction “cold turkey,” as this could lead to additional health problems – even death.
You also should not feel shame about a prescription-drug addiction.
Opioids are highly physically addictive drugs that have not been well regulated over the years. They have been overprescribed and marketed as a cure-all for many conditions, with little regard for the long-term consequences for patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999.”
So, who is at fault for the rising opioid epidemic and these prescription overdose deaths? Certainly not patients who trusted in the health care system to provide them with effective, safe treatment for their chronic pain.
“Some attorneys general and advocates are now asking in court whether the pharmaceutical companies who marketed the drugs and downplayed their addictive nature can be held legally responsible for—and made to pay for the consequences of—the crisis,” according to The Atlantic.
Physicians have a duty to understand the pharmaceuticals they prescribe to their patients. In addition, medical professionals should make sure that you have no known drug allergies that might affect the use of specific drugs.
Unfortunately, doctors sometimes prescribe the wrong medication, or prescribe a drug that interacts with another prescription, or prescribe the wrong dose.
In addition, doctors may rely on inaccurate information from the manufacturer when they prescribe these drugs. As a result, a drug company may also be at fault for injuries suffered from an accidental prescription drug overdose.
Patients or families who have been affected by prescription drug addiction should know they have legal options. If you have been affected by an accidental prescription drug overdose involving opioids or methadone, we may be able to help.