When Addiction Begins at the Doctor’s Office
So often we think of addiction as being born of some malignant or unsavory circumstance. We think of the rebellious adolescent who steals their parents’ oxy or use their Adderall prescription to escape reality. We think of the friend that chose drugs over their loved ones and are lost to us forever, or of the dishonest junkie who will lie and abuse to get what they need. These narratives have, in their own way, prevented the proliferation of more enlightened treatment culture, and ignore a fundamental reality of modern substance abuse: sometimes addiction begins right in our physicians’ offices.
The medical profession has been linked to the rise of prescription addiction. For starters, data indicates that as much as 14 percent of American doctors and nurses struggle with addiction. Increased access to benzos and opioids, and professional intense professional pressure, has created something of a perfect storm for abuse among this specialized professional group. Additionally, doctors routinely prescribe more than the CDC’s recommendations for first-time users. In 2013, generic hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed drug under Medicare. The reality is that the link between addiction and the medial profession is evident on both sides of the receptionist’s desk.
We rely on our physicians and medical practitioners to guide us toward positive health. It’s helpful to remember, however, that our doctors and nurses are human and are, thus, subject to the same weaknesses and temptations as their patients. We can continue to rely on their counsel, while educating ourselves and talking to them clearly and coherently about our concerns. We can even push back if we feel our current course of treatment isn’t working for us; after all, these are our bodies and it is our health at stake. Taking a more active role in our overall health can provide an additional layer of insulation from physician error.