Just how high can the street value of prescription painkillers rise? Apparently high enough that a doctor was willing to risk his license and his practice in order to make extra money from it.
The Star Tribune says that “Ten people face felony drug charges after state agents tied them to the sale of prescription painkillers illegally prescribed to them by a doctor.”
So the doctor is agreeing to prescribe prescription opiates in exchange for some amount of money. Obviously such patients did not have medical necessity in these cases. Patch says that “The evidence at trial proved that the doctor sold prescriptions for opioid medications on several occasions.”
So how can this be reversed, or what can be done about it? The trend towards prescription drug abuse only seems to be escalating over the years, as it is more and more replacing street drugs.
Perhaps one day soon we can lower the value of prescription opiate medications by creating a new kind of pain medicine. Researchers are working hard on this problem right now, trying to develop pain medication that does not result in a euphoric state, and therefore has lower abuse potential. If such medications can become the new norm, then it could seriously curb this relatively new problem that has been called an epidemic of sorts.
More and more teens are finding themselves searching through drug cabinets to find left over prescriptions in order to get high. A few decades ago kids did not really know what to look for, nor were they educated to the fact that you could even get a buzz from something that came from the pharmacy.
The Internet has changed all of that. Any kid can quickly look up whatever it is they find in the medicine cabinet and instantly know if it will give them a buzz or not. Furthermore, if someone doesn’t know how to look it up, their friends or peers can certainly do it for them. In the information age there are so many more options for abuse, which is unfortunate.
This is all complicated by the fact that prescription opiates are horribly addictive, and the human body will quickly start craving them even after what seems like a fairly routine prescription. Of course the tendency for this will vary from person to person, but many people who were unsuspecting of the problem find themselves liking these pills just a bit too much. So what is really going on in the body, and why do we crave painkillers?
It turns out that your human body is always using a tiny bit of opiates, or dopamine, that the body manufactures for itself. It does this every single day in order to establish a baseline of dopamine in the system–not enough to make you feel euphoric or “high,” but enough so that you just feel normal. That way, when the body encounters a painful situation or a great deal of stress (such as childbirth, for example), the system can deliver an extra helping of natural dopamine to your brain, bringing you some degree of relief. This is part of our built in survival mechanism.
When you take a prescription opiate such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, or Percocet, you are putting extra opiate molecules into the brain on top of what the body already naturally produces. So the new opiate molecules that you introduced with a pill rush into the brain and they fill up all of those opiate receptors and you feel good again. But you have to realize that when you do this over and over again in great quantities that the human body will eventually realize that you are supplying plenty of dopamine, and it will turn off its own production.
In other words, once you abuse opiates for a certain length of time, the body adjusts to this by reducing its own natural supply of dopamine. The end result of this is that when you eventually stop taking painkillers and putting extra opiates into your body, you will go into a state of withdrawal because your body is no longer producing its own dopamine. You trained it to do this when you abused opiates for so long.
The body does not like this state of withdrawal, and it will manifest flu like symptoms as a result. This normally lasts for about 3 to 5 days on average, though the length can vary quite a bit, depending on how long you have abused opiates, how much you abused them, body composition, and so on. The reason that it lasts for as long as it does is because, again, the body is slowly adapting to the new reality that you have put it in. So it realizes that it needs to start producing its own dopamine again, but that takes a few days. This is why the opiate addict suffers through a few days of withdrawal when the stop abusing drugs.
You can mitigate this withdrawal or avoid it completely if you go to inpatient treatment, where they can use specially designed medications to get you through this process. Don’t worry, you won’t come out of rehab addicted to a new set of drugs, but while you are there they may use certain medications to get you through the withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are what keep people stuck in the cycle of addiction, because they are so horrible and people want to avoid them so badly, which is what leads to relapse. It is very difficult to escape an opiate addiction without seeking help first.
There is no shame in seeking help for opiate addiction, and you should call a treatment center immediately if you or a loved one is considering getting some help. You can expect that going to treatment will be a comfortable experience, and you have nothing to really fear if that is the path that you choose to take. A lot of people wonder what must go on in a rehab, or they envision people in pain or climbing the walls with anxiety.
Treatment is nothing like that. Treatment is comfortable and easy to endure. Once you are in rehab, being there is not hard at all. The problem, of course, is in summoning the courage to pick up the phone and get yourself to go. That is the challenge that the opiate addict is really facing–escape from denial. In order to make this leap of faith you have to admit that you are no longer enjoying your life, you have to admit that the drugs are no longer doing what you want them to do, and you have to admit that you are no longer happy in your life. If you can face all of those things and admit them to yourself and to others, then you there is a good chance that you could go to treatment and turn your life around.
It is unfortunate that we are at a point in which a doctor can sell opiate prescriptions on the side for extra money. Hopefully we are also at a point in which public knowledge about addiction will rise to the point in which people know that there is a solution. If you or a loved one is struggling with pain pill addiction, pick up the phone and make the call that could change your whole life. Call a rehab center today.