Since a lot of my patients use potentially addictive drugs, I always have important discussions on how to avoid substance abuse. This NYTimes article is a great summary of why we get addicted and how dangerous it is. On the 3rd page, the article discusses how medical doctors are not trained to manage chronic pain so they simply prescribe more dangerous and addictive drugs.
The toll from soaring rates of prescription drug abuse, including both psychiatric medications and drugs for pain, has begun to dwarf that of the usual illegal culprits. Hospitalizations related to prescription drugs are up fivefold in the last decade, and overdose deaths up fourfold. More high school seniors report recreational use of tranquilizers or prescription narcotics, like OxyContin and Vicodin, than heroin and cocaine combined.
The numbers have alarmed drug policy experts, their foreboding heightened by the realization that the usual regulatory tools may be relatively unhelpful in this new crisis.
As Dr. Volkow said to a group of drug experts convened by the surgeon general last month to discuss the problem, “In the past, when we have addressed the issue of controlled substances, illicit or licit, we have been addressing drugs that we could remove from the earth and no one would suffer.” But prescription drugs, she continued, have a double life: They are lifesaving yet every bit as dangerous as banned substances. “The challenges we face are much more complex,” Dr. Volkow said, “because we need to address the needs of patients in pain, while protecting those at risk for substance use disorders.”