> Twelve million Americans are addicted to prescription drugs.
>Every day, 40 Americans die from prescription painkillers.
>Overdoses of opioid prescription drugs now kill more people in the U.S. than do overdoses from heroin and cocaine combined.
>Over 750,000 people are treated for pain reliever abuse.
A 43 year old male sought my help in terminating his Oxycontin Addiction. He was taking 6-8 tablets, illicitly purchased, a day for 2 years and lost his grip on life. Before his Oxycontin Addiction, he was a successful self-employed businessman and family man who never engaged in unhealthy habits or addictive behaviors. A couple of years ago he had an ankle fracture and his doctor prescribed Oxycontin for the pain. He took it for months and was hooked. He was never weaned off the medication nor could he discontinue himself.
Unfortunately, many prescribing doctors either neglect or disregard the potent addictive nature of Oxycontin and other opioid narcotic analgesics and their long-term effects. As an anesthesiologist and pain specialist, I believe opioids should be prescribed for about one to two weeks, and if necessary followed by less potent non-addictive analgesics or NSAID’s such as ibuprofen. I flat out tell my patients that if they take opioids for more than two weeks - be prepared to be addicted.
Oxycontin Addiction is an opioid addiction. And like all addictions it is a problem of the mind not the brain. Thus, the mind not the body is locked into the addiction.
Detoxing the brain with chemical agents such as methadone only solves the physical withdrawals which are short-lived. However, these chemical agents do not erase the euphoric effects of Oxycontin Addiction which is registered in the mind and that leads to cravings and urges. These cravings and urges keep the Oxycontin addict hooked. Detoxing the mind from this memory is crucial to break the relationship between Oxycontin and the addict.
I told my patient that to detox his mind he will have to accept the responsibility of his addiction and the willingness to sacrifice the pleasure or the thrill to secure a bright future and good health. Only this step can neutralize his cravings. Detoxing the mind is the turning point in his struggle to clean up his act and to permanently disengage from the addiction. Based on this philosophy, I gave him two turning point treatments to overcome his cravings for the drug which helped set him free from his addiction.
Balasa Prasad M.D.