Overmedicated: Anxiety, Depression, and the Opioid Epidemic

Posted on Jun 28, 2017
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Overmedicated: Anxiety, Depression, and the Opioid Epidemic

Treating opioid addictions in Texas and across the country in the midst of the opioid epidemic is becoming even more difficult. Sure, there’s movement in the right direction – the FDA recently instructed Endo Pharmaceuticals to pull the highly-addictive medication Opana ER and insurance provider Cigna pledged to decrease opioid use and over-prescription by 25% over the next few years. The problem still remains that much of the medical community is struggling with how to treat people suffering from heroin addiction in Texas and across the United States. This week, Infinite Recovery explores how we’ve become Overmedicated: Anxiety, Depression, and the Opioid Epidemic.

A study done by researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the University of Michigan has found that nearly 19% of the 38.6 million people with anxiety and/or depression received at least two prescriptions for opioids in a year. Brian Sites, a professor of anesthesiology and orthopedics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, states that a reason for this could be that “their mental condition may cause them to feel that pain more acutely or be less able to cope with it, leading to increased requests for something to dull it.” Compared to a patient who says their pain is perhaps a 2 out of 10, a patient with these mental disorders and the same injury may report having their pain as a 10 out of 10.

Not many years ago, the Joint Commission added pain as the “fifth vital sign” after being pressured by pharmaceutical companies and doctors wishing to be able to prescribe these medications with a federal stamp of approval. While the other four vital signs of pulse, core temperature, blood pressure, and respiration could all be quantified and measured, pain was left to the discretion of the patient.

Many doctors are trying to be empathetic to these patients who are claiming to have such unbearable pain, but fail to think about the possibility of long term abuse. Many studies have also been done around the world to show that prescribing painkillers to patients isn’t the best answer. “Research groups like the Cochrane Collaboration stated that they could find no clinically significant benefit for opioids over NSAIDs like naproxen—the over-the-counter medicine commonly sold as Aleve.”

Depression and anxiety are difficult to deal with. Every person in recovery either has or loves someone who suffers from one of these mental conditions – co-occurring disorder diagnoses have increased over the past decade. But recovery is still possible. The ability to be honest with oneself and others is invaluable to this path and can be achieved by all. We here at Infinite Recovery implore anyone out there to reach out if they believe they have a problem. Depression and anxiety can make you believe you are alone, but we ask you to listen when we say that you are not. A life of recovery is possible.

We here at Infinite Recovery are closely monitoring the opioid epidemic and are here to help. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction or heroin addiction, get help now. We offer a confidential hotline at (844) 206-9063 and our admissions team is available 24/7 online.

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