Since the mid-twentieth century Americans have witnessed the abuse of drugs among the American population. This phenomena is nothing new and every generation ushers in a new exploited drug of choice. While illegal drugs became popular in the sixties and have remained a persistent issue, America is currently in the age of prescription drug abuse. Among the most abused medication is opioids, chronic pain killers, and Adderall, a medication prescribed to ADHD and ADD patients to control their behavior.
People choose to abuse opioids for their pain relieving effects, though they are highly addictive and people can develop a tolerance for the medication quickly. Adderall is mostly misused by young adults and adults. The drug, classified as a stimulant, has focusing effects and people claim to get more done. This is mostly because the drug causes them to be more active and most often prevents sleep. These drugs are not known to become physically addictive but mentally addictive.
Amphetamine drugs such as Adderall have been labeled a schedule two drug which is a medication that can only be accessed through a prescription. Most opioids are also labeled schedule two drugs but many are concerned that only a prescription is needed to access the pills due to their addictive nature.
This medication abuse has been deemed an epidemic and is almost always perceived that the only people at fault are the people who choose to abuse it. However, America has another underlying problem that goes hand in hand with this abuse of medication: the misdiagnosing epidemic.
In 2012, according to the Center for Disease Control, 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain killers were written by doctors. That’s enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of pills. At 11 percent, America also diagnoses more children with ADHD than anywhere else in the world with most of those children being medicated.
The CDC recognizes the over-diagnosing of these opioids as the leading cause of opioid overdose in America.
Some doctors can be so quick to believe a patient despite the fact that they may be faking symptoms or to be rid of the patient that they diagnose them prematurely or incorrectly. The prescription medication business is thriving and there is money to be made for doctors who are willing to hastily diagnose both children and adults. Sometimes doctors can also be partial to those they are diagnosing. Athletes are able to get Therapeutic Use Exemptions much easier now. These exemptions allow the athlete to use stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin based on their diagnosis in their respective sports which means that athletes are able to get a false or only partially truthful diagnosis easier as well.
Dr. William Hurwitz, nicknamed Dr. Feelgood, was a notorious doctor during the eighties until 2007 that prescribed opioids to patients with chronic pain. He was arrested and spent time in jail for 16 accounts of drug trafficking and the jury found him guilty of excess dosing. His case was famous due to the sheer number of pills that his prescription scripts called for as this shocked many and spurred an ethical dilemma. The trial sparked controversy as some patients who claimed they needed the opioids defended him while others claimed he had prescribed their loved ones too many and aided them in overdosing. After the fact, some of his former patients report that Dr. Hurwitz was too lenient in his scripts.
The fact that this is an epidemic is no surprise. These highly addictive medications often targeted for their recreational uses are made readily available causing them to be abused more easily. In addition to the issue of misdiagnosis, America needs to understand the there are other ways to treat patients. Instead of throwing medication at the problem in every situation, doctors need to work with the patient to develop the best course of action and solution for the patient.