Risks of Painkiller Addiction after Car Accident
In 2017, drug overdoses became the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50. Public health experts estimate that 2016 drug overdose deaths exceeded 59,000; the largest year over year increase ever recorded in the United States, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The increase represents an estimated 19 percent jump over 2015 opioid prescription deaths which saw 52,404 recorded drug overdose deaths.
The drugs causing the majority of these overdoses are not illegal street drugs; rather they are pharmaceutical grade opioids prescribed by doctors to help their patients manage pain from injuries caused by car accidents and other traumatic experiences.
What is prescription painkiller addiction?
When a medical provider prescribes a painkiller, the patient is expected to take the medicine as directed by the doctor and pharmacist. The problem is that more than 20 percent of people living in the U.S. over the age of 12 have taken a prescription medicine for a non-medical reason – which is abuse. In some cases, people abuse prescription drugs for a short time and do not become addicted. For those that do become addicted, they need bigger and bigger doses to get the high they are seeking. This reality often leads to damage to personal relationships and jobs because of the lying and stealing that often comes with feeding the addiction.
Who is vulnerable to painkiller addiction?
Addiction is complex and there is no singular reason that one person becomes addicted while another does not. Factors include genetics, lifestyle, the person’s age (young people are more likely to become addicted), history of mental illness such as depression, anxiety or PTSD, presence of chronic pain, and even childhood trauma. Other factors include whether a person has access to prescription pain pills, whether through their own prescription or by stealing from someone else in the household who has opioids in the house. A person who is already addicted to alcohol, tobacco or other stimulants or depressants is much more vulnerable to opioid addiction.
The danger of being prescribed painkillers after a car accident
The bottom line is that no one can become addicted to pain medication without access to it. When a person is dealing with a lot of pain after a car accident, for example, a person may receive a prescription for pain pills that starts out innocently. When a person has risk factors such as a history of mental illness, other family members with addiction issues and an openness to experiment with drugs; the patient’s risk of becoming addicted to the prescription medication increases greatly. Patients who are aware of their risk factors should discuss them with their doctor before accepting a prescription. The doctor may alter the prescription to include fewer pills and monitor the patient more closely if there is fear of potential addiction.
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