The Dangers of the over-prescription of medication

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Author: Tanvi Varma

Medication has always been used to either relieve pain or treat any illnesses/diseases. Depending on the medical situation, either over-the-counter or prescription drugs are available. Prescription medication is usually stronger or tends to have addictive properties, which is why it has to be ordered by a doctor. However, in recent years, medical drugs have become increasingly accessible and over-prescribed. Individuals can go into a doctor’s office with any symptom, and doctors will easily prescribe some form of medication. In many cases, the individual may not even need it, and could be faking the symptoms in order to get a drug.

Furthermore, individuals often inappropriately take antibiotics — which are often composed of harmful chemicals — to treat viral infections, according to Dr. Jeffrey A Linder, a senior researcher and doctor of internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. This could potentially cause unwanted damage. Linder also notes that taking antibiotics when they are not needed only increases bacterial resistance to the drugs.

The issue in the United States is the over-prescription of medical drugs. Surprisingly, some of the most over-prescribed drugs are not very common ones. For example, Synthroid, a drug that acts as a replacement for a hormone normally produced by an individual’s thyroid gland, has 22.6 million monthly prescriptions. Another highly over-prescribed drug is Crestor, a medication for lowering high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, with 22.5 million monthly prescriptions. Both medications have dangerous side-effects that include death, if abused.

Opioids are high strength painkillers that “represent the most widely prescribed class of medications in the United States,” says a New York Times article regarding the over-prescription of opiates. Over the last decade or so, the number of prescriptions for the strongest opioids has nearly quadrupled, with only limited evidence of its long-term effectiveness or risks. According to Dr. C. Richard Chapman, (director of the Pain Research Center at the University of Utah), doctors are constantly over-prescribing them.

Not only are these painkillers over-prescribed, but they are also some of the most addictive drugs. Medical professionals have to be on constant high alert for these powerful painkillers because of their widespread abuse, especially by teenagers and others for recreational purposes. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in 12 high school seniors reported using the opiate Vicodin for non-medical purposes, while one in 20 reported using OxyContin. When this group was asked how they obtained these powerful drugs, roughly 70 percent said they had gotten them from someone close, such as a friend or family member. It has also become much easier for people to get a prescription for opiates, especially Oxycodone. Since Oxycodone and similar medications are very powerful drugs, it is important to be well informed before using them.

While many people initially use opiate painkillers after an accident, they often become addicted and, consequently, keep coming back for more even after the pain has gone. Many assume that these drugs are safe. They can be, if used wisely. Without having any reason to believe otherwise, patients trust their doctor when given a prescription for pain. But alleviating pain can easily turn into an addiction when dealing with these types of drugs, as your body needs more and more to maintain the same feeling.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 1.9 million people in the U.S. meet addiction or abuse standards for prescription opiates. These people are not only at risk of overdosing on these drugs, but also of taking the next step in addiction by crossing over to even more powerful drugs.

In summary, the over-prescription of medication has become increasingly common in the United States. The results, including immune resistance, addiction, overdosing, and death, are all fatal effects that can be easily avoided.

 

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