2013-08-16 / News

Overuse of prescription drugs at an all-time high

Contributed by Palmetto Health

Did you know that overdose and death from the use of prescription drugs known as opioids has reached an all-time high? According to the National Library of Medicine, an estimated 20 percent of Americans have used prescription drugs, such as opioids, for nonmedical reasons.

What are opioids? Opioids are a class of medication used to treat chronic and severe pain. Examples of medications included in this category are Codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Dilaudid. These medications can become highly addictive and if used improperly, they can have devastating outcomes.

Steve Storick, M.D., medical director of the Palmetto Health Pain Management and Rehabilitation Center, knows the dangers associated with overuse. Storick wants to emphasize to the community there are numerous ways to treat chronic pain without the use of opioids as long as they are motivated to work at it every day. He said, “The quick, easy way out of using opioids can become a longterm problem.”

Storick believes there is proper use of opioids, but since long-term studies of opioid use for chronic pain are lacking, community members should be aware when they are prescribed these medications, they should be closely monitored. He said, “The wrong combination of opioids with other medications including other opioids, antidepressants, anti-anxiety, muscle relaxants, sleep medications, anti-convulsants, and alcohol can lead to death.”

Side effects of opioid overuse may include changes in the following:

• sleep pattern
• mood
• appetite
• nausea
• sex drive
• constipation
• urinary retention
• thought process

If you suffer from chronic pain, contact the Palmetto Health Pain Management and Rehabilitation Center, visit PalmettoHealth.org/PainAndRehab or call 803-296- PAIN (7246).

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