What do you think of when someone uses the term ‘drug addict’? Most of you probably imagine someone using illicit drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. In reality, anyone can become a drug addict, and it doesn’t have to arise from illicit drug use. It’s also important to bear in mind that addiction to POM medications can be just as damaging as illegal drugs. Could your patients be addicted to their prescription medication? Or could your patients be selling their prescription to drug users?
“some patients who had been prescribed the drug themselves were then selling on part of their prescription to make a profit” – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-37693212
Prescription drugs commonly misused in the UK includes:
- Codeine, Morphine, Tramadol, Oxycodone/Oxycontin (opiates)
- Diazepam, Midazolam, Lorazepam (benzodiazepines)
Remember to keep an eye out for forged prescriptions, especially if they are prescribing any of the items above.
Signs to look out for as suggested by UK Addiction Treatment includes:
- A tendency to visit doctors frequently
- A tendency to shop online for prescription drugs
- Regular complaints about medical conditions that would justify drug use
- A gradual drop-off in school or work performance
- And increasing disinterest in personal appearance
- A tendency toward defensiveness when talking about prescription medications
Read more here: https://www.ukat.co.uk/prescription-drug-addiction/
This BBC report earlier in the year gives you an idea of availability of drugs on the black market, and the impact of the crisis on the NHS: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-38560041
The use of your professional judgment is key in situations like this, and remember as the MEP states, failure to raise concerns about a patient is poor practice.
Thank you for taking your time to read this blog post and stay tuned for more as we upload each month!
The APC Team