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Doctors urged to use more caution with opioid prescriptions

When we visit our doctor, the hope is that we will leave feeling as good or better than we did when we entered the office. Oftentimes, this means leaving with a prescription for medication.

However, before we receive a prescription from our doctor, it is crucial that he or she understands our condition and how or if certain powerful drugs will help or hurt us. For instance, in recent years, there has been a growing dependence on opioid medication and anti-anxiety medication, which has led to devastating deaths and addiction rates. In light of this, federal health officials are urging doctors to be more cautious and reserved in their prescription of these powerful drugs.

The concern with these drugs is that they are very addictive and when used together, they can have fatal consequences because of their combined effect on a person's central nervous system. Numerous stories of fatal overdoses and "slow suicides" are examined in this report in The Washington Post

However, these drugs are fairly easy to obtain and abuse. Patients might fabricate or exaggerate symptoms or visit multiple doctors to get more frequent refills. This is why doctors are being urged to reign in prescription of these powerful medications and be more fastidious in warning patients of their dangers.

If a doctor sees that a patient is a frequent alcohol user, has a history of addiction or is already on either anti-anxiety or opioid medication, they are encouraged to examine alternatives to prescribing even more powerful medication. Instead of medication, they might decide to do more testing to uncover a person's medical problem or seek alternative treatment options to address the primary health concern.

Of course, patients need to be aware of these risks as well, and we take on some responsibility when it comes to our own health. However, when someone is in pain and goes to a doctor seeking relief, it is up to that doctor to assess a person's condition and make decisions that protect the patient's well-being.

This means properly warning patients about the risks of dangerous drugs as well as refraining from prescribing addictive medications that could interact poorly with other drugs or substances the patient uses.

It will be interesting to see how doctors respond to this call for change.

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