The Opioid Crisis Continues: Stealing Pain Meds from Hospice Care Patients
The abuse of prescription painkillers has become a prevalent issue permeating our country in recent years. Addiction to opioid painkillers has increased so much that the problem has been referred to as the nation’s opioid crisis. Since opioid painkilling medications are now prescribed at alarming rates, it’s no wonder that these addictive substances often end up abused in some manner. The information that follows further addresses the serious nature of this problem and how it has even led some people to steal medications from hospice patients in an attempt to avoid the painful withdrawal associated with coming off of an addictive substance.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are a specific class of prescription medication typically used to treat chronic pain that results from a wide variety of health issues and diseases. It’s true that there is a genuine need for prescription opioid painkilling medications for millions of adults across the country. However, these medications come with a high risk of physical dependence and addiction.
What is the Opioid Crisis in America?
Political figures and leaders of our country have described the issue with addiction to prescription painkillers as a legitimate crisis. The increased availability of these powerful medications along with their potency has created a true emergency situation for millions across the country. Opioid medications can result in serious sedative effects in those taking them, ultimately impacting the function of vital organs such as the lungs and heart. In addition to an increased risk of fatal overdose, simply using these drugs for prolonged periods of time can wreak havoc on an individual’s long-term health.
However, the problems with opioid painkiller addiction do not end with the destruction of health, the risk of overdose, and the huge financial burden to our country. Statistics have recently shown a disturbing increase in the number of opioid-related thefts by those suffering from addiction to these substances. Sadly, the effects drastically influence the quality of life for hospice patients who rely on these medications for end-of-life palliative treatment and comfort.
How the Opioid Crisis has Increased Theft Issues
Those in the grips of addiction do not always make the wisest choices. The physical side effects experienced by those suffering from addiction to medications such as opioid painkillers can be distressing, uncomfortable, or even painful. As a result of this, when those afflicted with addiction run out of medication or have issues gaining access to more, they can make poor judgment calls that affect other people. Sadly, this is just what has been occurring across the nation as many addicted individuals turn to stealing painkillers.
Hospice centers all across America have reported an increase in the number of patients who do not seem to experience much-needed relief from the pain inflicted by their terminal conditions. They only realize the true nature of the problem later once a family member of the hospice patient suffers a serious overdose. This problem has been occurring at increasing rates across America, leaving the hospice patients without the appropriate pain relief that they need for their condition.
Medical professionals and community leaders alike continue to search for reliable ways to address this serious problem. Since most hospice patients remain under these services within their own home, it can be difficult or even impossible to monitor for possible drug misuse or theft. Additionally, the majority of hospice facilities around the country have not implemented training on how to recognize the warning signs associated with medication misuse or theft. These are possible solutions that are currently being looked into in order to provide continued support for hospice patients who genuinely need continual access to pain medications.
The Importance of Seeking Proper Treatment
Substance abuse and addiction are serious issues facing millions of adults in the United States today. For the majority of those suffering from this problem, professional intervention is needed. Whether referring to prescription medications or illicit substances, drug addiction is a complex and multi-faceted issue that requires in-depth treatment with a wide variety of techniques and protocols. Professional alcohol and drug treatment facilities are best equipped to handle the individual needs of those suffering from these complex issues.
If you’re concerned about the health and well-being of a loved struggling with substance abuse, rest assured that reliable help is available that can get your family’s life back on track. Accredited drug treatment facilities exist throughout California to provide the understanding, support, and therapeutic interventions necessary to recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Reaching out for help is a sign of bravery and remains the best way to get back on track to a happy life.
Photo credit: Cristian Newman
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About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.