As the number of chronic pain patients increases, it is obvious that the use of pharmacy medications is also on the rise. What worries me is the addictive nature of many of these pharmacy medications, the ease of availability of them and the risk that is greatly downplayed with taking these pills. This is a serious issue that pharmacy technicians may have to face at the pharmacy counter.
According to a report published in USA Today, “The number of overdose deaths from powerful painkillers more than tripled over a decade, the government reported Tuesday — a trend the nation’s top health official called an epidemic, but one that can be stopped… Prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and methadone led to the deaths of almost 15,000 people in 2008, including actor Heath Ledger. That’s more than three times the 4,000 deaths in 1999.
“The report shows nearly 5 percent of Americans ages 12 and older said they’ve abused painkillers in the past year — using them without a prescription or just for the high. In 2008-09 surveys, Oklahomans reported the highest rate of abuse; the lowest was in Nebraska and Iowa… The overdose deaths reflect the spike in the number of narcotic painkillers prescribed every year — enough to give every American a one-month supply, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which issued the report… Prescriptions rose as doctors aimed to better treat pain and as new painkillers hit the market.”
I admit that for a couple of years I was one of the daily Vicodin patients. Fibromyalgia and chronic pain plague my body and although pharmacy medications don’t fully take the pain away, it does take the edge off and make it manageable. I will also admit that my exercise regimen is non-existent and my diet isn’t the healthiest. I think that I, like most people, would rather take relief in a pill than actually do the hard work to improve my condition. Am I proud? No. But truth is truth. (Anyway, I quit taking Vicodin three years ago when I got pregnant with my daughter. If that isn’t a great incentive, I don’t know what is!)
So how can pharmacy technician schools help to alleviate this problem? Quite frankly, it’s up to the doctors who prescribe the pharmacy medications and the patients who need to take responsibility for their own well-being. However, if you see a problem arising or a dangerous drug interaction prescribed, it is your duty to report it.
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