By Michelle Silver
When we go to the doctor for pain or a problem, we want something that will make us feel better immediately. Parents don’t like seeing their children suffering, so they too push for an immediate remedy. Today, that remedy often consists of prescription drugs. The average American has gone from seven prescription drugs annually to twelve. Last April, I too was guilty of going to the doctor looking for a cure for my extremely painful spasming neck. I spent no longer than five minutes talking to my primary care physician about my pain, when she sent my prescription of 30 tablets with codeine off to CVS. At the time I was thankful for some prescription relief, however, looking back, 30 tablets of codeine seems excessive. I consider myself a responsible young adult, and therefore discarded my 20 extra codeine tablets, however, I know people who would have done differently. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate for my doctor to give me a week’s supply, and had I still been in pain and needed more, then required me to come back for a follow-up visit and prescription.
It seems to me that physicians are fueling the country’s prescription drug abuse problem. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who should be taking prescription drugs for different conditions and do so responsibly, but it seems rather dangerous to be overprescribing in such large quantities to an especially vulnerable population like teenagers and young adults. Maybe instead of focusing intervention efforts on appropriate disposal methods which I know from experience get little to know attention from adolescents, a more reasonable approach would be to reeducate physicians about prescribing. Most physicians mean well by prescribing and are so rushed in their day to day patient visits that over prescribing can help save time for both the physician and the patients. However, physicians must be reminded of the negative consequences over prescribing can have and the fact that prescription drug abuse and addiction is on the rise, especially among adolescents.