Few decades ago pharmaceutical companies were giving incentives to medical professionals to attend conferences on pain management, free travel, five-star hotel stays, gift hampers, toys to bring back to the kids, and much more, all the while introducing opioids and other prescriptive painkillers and encouraging them to prescribe them to pain patients. The whole strategy worked as planned. Prescribing painkillers to patients became a norm without giving a thought to long-term effects, like prescription drug abuse, leading to a whole generation of people getting addicted to drugs. The damage was so extensive that now the opioid crisis has been declared as a public health emergency with scores of people seeking prescription drug addiction help.
This situation could have been avoided if the authorities were vigilant and had read the signs of the disaster waiting to happen. However, the authorities have learnt a lesson from their past mistakes and become cautious of any other wave of addiction waiting to happen. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while observing prevalent trends to anticipate concerns, recently wrote a letter that stated that opioid substitutes were going to be the next category of drugs to be abused.
FDA officials Douglas C. Throckmorton, Scott Gottlieb, and Janet Woodcock cautioned in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine that with the strict measures adopted to counter opioid abuse, people were going to look for possible alternatives leading to the abuse of painkillers that are not categorized as opioids. “We must be aware that any decisive actions taken to reduce prescription opioid abuse and stem the tide of overdose and death can have unintended consequences, including prompting people to turn to alternative, potentially dangerous substances,” the FDA officials wrote in the letter. “In addition, as clinicians seek to help patients with pain, new prescribing patterns will emerge. Deciding on a course of action that will sustain appropriate use of prescription drugs while curtailing drug abuse is essential,” they wrote. “Our assessment of changing patterns in drug use and abuse must be informed by an understanding of the complex social environment in which changing patterns of drug consumption occur.”
They also mentioned the presence and use of a “listening platform” on social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., to keep a check on the conversations related to opioids. “When we find mention of additional substances on social media or elsewhere, we conduct more specific searches for relevant, publicly available conversations,” the officials wrote.
A “preliminary appraisal” of the social media discussions revealed a shift from using gabapentinoids to control pain and seizures to abusing them. Apart from this, there were also talks about drugs like loperamide, benzodiazepines, and kratom that were currently under the radar.
Seeking help for prescription drug addiction
As a part of the multi-pronged approach to curb the opioid epidemic, the FDA adopted watchful measures to prevent further widespread abuse of any other drugs, controlled prescriptions, spread awareness about prescription use disorder, ensured availability of medications to prevent overdoses, encouraged medical professionals to undertake training to learn how to deal with overdoses, and strengthened the treatment and recovery programs. However, the result of these measures can completely take effect only when people are aware about the condition and its repercussions. Therefore, it is essential that the signs and symptoms of opioid or prescription abuse are identified in time and expert medical intervention for prescription drug addiction help is sought.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an opioid use disorder or experiencing symptoms of prescription drug abuse, seek immediate medical help. You can get in touch with the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline to know about the most reputed prescription drug rehab centers in your vicinity. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 450-1557 or chat online with our expert to know about the symptoms of prescription drug abuse.