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Addicted to Pain Meds

A story from Montana Kaimin tells the experience of a college student who ran afoul of a risk of modern medicine – becoming addicted to prescribed medications. In this case, it was pain meds, pain meds prescribed for a legitimate injury.

From the piece:
Costello remembers the moment he knew he was hooked.
“I can remember going into the pharmacy to get a refill, and they told me I had to wait a couple of hours because they were out," Costello said. "I exploded. I had turned into a complete addict.”

The pharmacist is put in an awkward position when a patient begins to show signs of addiction. The patient may try to get refills too early, or bring in prescriptions from more than one doctor, or even attempt to forge a prescription. It becomes clear they are taking more of a narcotic than they should. It’s then up to the pharmacist to talk to the patient’s doctor or counsel the patient directly, neither of which is easy. No one wants to be told they have a problem with a pain medicine they are taking for a real injury. But pharmacists are forbidden, by law, to dispense narcotics to addicted persons.

The subject of the story increased his pain meds on his own. And then got new pills – stronger pills.

It’s not an uncommon scenario. Prescription drug misuse and abuse is on the rise across the US. At the University of Montana, where this story originates, they’ve instituted a program to address the issue among students: the Medicine Abuse Project.

It’s the last thing a physician intends when they prescribe pain medications. But the risk of addiction with opioids like Vicodin, Lortab and others, is an ever-present danger. Patients need to understand the consequences of increasing their dose on their own, before they become dependent.

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