World of Pain: Prescription Drug Use Soars

World of Pain: Prescription Drug Use Soars
By: Mike Shain
A Cape Girardeau doctor says more education is needed to reduce the use of legal narcotics by patients.  The comment by pain specialist Abdul Naushad follows an Associated Press analysis of statistics that show a sharp increase in prescriptions for pain killing medications.
Dr. Naushad says both family physicians and their patients need to know more about the dangers of long term use of narcotics.  Naushad says prolonged use of drugs such as OxyContin can result in a number of serious problems and even death.
Federal Drug Enforcement Administration records reveal that five major painkillers sold at retail establishments rose 90 percent between 1997 and 2005.  Missouri reported sales of Oxycodone increased more than 1,100 percent, the highest percentage increase in the nation. Oxycodone is the chemical used in the OxyContin painkiller.  Use of Vicodin also shot up  
In his treatment at Advanced Pain Centers, Dr. Raushad says the course of action is to determine the source of pain.  An MRI is the first step.  Narcotics are used but only the mildest like Codein and Darvocet.  And even before that, physical therapy and exercise are prescribed and still short of narcotics, non-narcotic injections.  The doctor says the patient may be sent to a surgeon if that is indicated.
"Narcotics are good for the short run but for the long run, they have a lot of side effects."   For that reason, Naushad says he practices zero tolerance.  Patients are tested for drug use, just in case they are "doctor shopping", going from one doctor to the next for prescriptions.   He takes no excuses if the patient says drugs were lost or stolen.  "We fire the patient."
Dr. Naushad says all of his patients are informed in detail about any narcotic that is prescribed.  He says family physicians need to be better informed so they can instruct their patients.
Narcotics come in three classes, mild, moderate and severe.  If someone starts with a drug like Vicodin or OxyContin, there's no going back to a milder drug.
Good for the short run, but in the long run narcotics have a lot of very bad side effects.  That's why the first advice patients get from Dr. Naushad is, "Quit smoking and start exercising."