And, not just because I am a nurse, but because I am more acutely aware of the problem since I work with it at the hospital. We sometimes joke about it at work, but seriously, it is NO joke. I'm talking about drug addiction. Specifically, addiction to pain pills.
Why do we joke about it? Because, it is so rampant today. And, it is blatantly obvious why the patient has come to the hospital. Quite frankly, many of the doctors are at fault for doing the prescribing, for enabling the drug seeking to go on and on and on. I'm sure many of the MD's feel they will be damned if they do, and damned if they don't. We are such a sue happy society today.
It is quite common for someone to come to the hospital with a "near syncopal episode." That means they felt like they were going to pass out, faint. When we review the list of meds they are taking, I'm surprised they aren't DEAD. It is ludicrous. These patients are notoriously manipulative with the nursing staff and the MDs.
Addiction to pain pills is much harder to take care of than alcoholics. It's hard for an alcoholic to lie. Their lab work tells the story (when they come into the hospital) and later, DT's (delirium tremors) usually follow. But, the pain pill addict LIES and usually gets away with it. Some of them are quite cunning. They lie to their families. They go about their daily chores high on drugs. They drive on pain pills. They will steal. They sleep a lot. Their relationships with loved ones and friends become compromised. They will do anything to get more pills. They have to: they have an addiction.
You may or may not know it, but my guess is that you know someone who has a pain pill addiction. It is that common today. I just read yesterday about a sting operation right in Santa Clarita Valley (close to home) that shut down a fraudulent "pain management clinic " ring. This is a big time money operation. Some of these clinics make up to TEN thousand dollars per day. You heard me right. It is just as big as illegal drug trafficking.
One of the largest orthopedic centers in So. Calif. now makes patients sign a paper saying they can ask for a drug urinalysis at any time when they come in asking for pain pills. I think this is a good thing. I wish more physicians were more cognizant and responsible in their prescribing. They may save a life.
Okay off my soapbox now.....:0)