The Growing Addiction of Prescription Pain Medication

A doctor usually has 15 minutes to see a patient, unless the patient is brand-new, and is coming in for the very first time. Then, he MIGHT get to see the patient for a whole 30 minutes, that first time. After that, it’s every 15 minutes from then on.

That’s not a lot of time. And, unfortunately, any way that the time can be shortened is going to be seen as a blessing to a busy doctor.

So, a patient comes in and says, “Man, doc, since you put me on (fill in the blank here, Heaven knows there’s enough choices out there) I feel great! No more pain. But, let it start wearing off, and I go to hurting again.” What’s a pressed-for-time doctor most likely going to hear? “Feel great…works…no more pain till it wears off…”

“OK,” he or she might think, “this is easy. Give the patient another refill.” And, the first couple of times this happens, the doctor probably doesn’t think any more about it. But, then, about a month, maybe two, later, the patient is back, wanting more of the stuff. And, now the physician starts to get suspicious.

So, what exactly is the physician’s responsibility when it comes to prescription drug abuse? After all, the drug had to be prescribed, and only a doctor can prescribe a drug. So, does this put a doctor in a “Catch-22” or “damned (pardon the language) if he does/damned (again, sorry) if he doesn’t” situation? Uh oh, did the lid just fall off the can of worms again?