Prescription drug addicts

Tara - posted on 06/29/2011 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My cousin died last week of an accidental overdose of a combination of anti depressants and pain medication. Both were prescribed to him by his long time family doctor.
He died because he took too many over a period of 10 days, he was in a lot of pain and had hit a bad place in his depression. He had also just been released a month prior from spending 3 months in a psychiatric facility where he was having his medication changed and his doses monitored as he had previously accidentally overdosed because he took too many thinking his pain was too much.
So after being "cleaner" and more medically regulated he was released. He did well for a little while but then as I said hit a really rough patch.
I mourn his loss deeply, he was my favourite cousin, I knew he was struggling, I spoke to him this time last year.
I will miss him a lot.
My question up for debate is this:

Do you think doctors or next of kin should have more rights to institutionalize loved one for long periods of time if they know that this person is abusing their prescribed medication.
And secondly, do doctors have a responsibility to place a patient in care if they know they are abusing their medication?

Just looking for answers for a tragic death of a wonderful person who hit a really bad road block in his life and lived with chronic pain since he was 16.
I just wish he had more support and more direction.
I just wish I had been closer and not on the other side of the country too.

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Amber - posted on 06/29/2011

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I'm sorry for your loss.



I also wish that there were more options available for drug addicts and their families. There are ways to help people, but it can be a difficult process.



Doctors kind of have their hands tied with respect to these issues. If they believe a patient is abusing their prescription, they can issue an ultimatum. Basically, you enter treatment or I stop writing you the prescription. But they can't commit them for it unless they can prove that they pose a danger to themselves or others. Even then, they must take it to a judge and the court must rule on whether the commitment will be allowed.



I'm torn on where I stand on this issue. On one side, it would be beneficial to make the process easier so that more people would be forced to seek the help that they need.



On the other hand, the laws were made difficult because there were many people abusing this system. Perfectly healthy people were being committed to further somebody's personal agenda. The system was corrupt and innocent people were suffering.

So they created a system where a non-biased third party would look at the evidence on both sides before making a decision to take away somebody's freedom for their own safety.

I'm not sure which is the lesser of the two evils...

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Ez - posted on 06/29/2011

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Sorry for your loss Tara :(

This is such a hard issue. Because of my work (medical secretary), I see this a lot. A LOT!! The doctors I work for usually take three steps when trying to treat one of these patients. The doctor can't physically force the patient to comply, but the scripts will stop if they don't.

Firstly, they try and wean them back to the recommended dosage themselves, by only writing scripts for a week's worth of medication at a time. If that doesn't work, they are sent to an outpatient drug and alcohol service, which is in our public hospital and thus free of charge. They will also be sent to a Pain Management Clinic if necessary. The last resort is inpatient treatment, which happens pretty rarely. The patients who are serious about wanting to get their problem under control have usually improved enough through the first two stages to not need it. And the ones who are really bad just refuse to go and go find their pills somewhere else.

America3437 - posted on 06/29/2011

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I am deeply sorry for your loss. I have worked in the medical field and believe doctors are careless. I have also experienced this carelessness first hand with my daughter and had to tell nurse to look at chart before opening her mouth cause she had the wrong file and behold she did. Doctors over book and get in a big hurry and don't take the time needed with patients. I do believe that if you know first hand the situation and can help control the issue then yes, families should have the right to ask that the loved one stay in treatment. Too many times doctors look at charts and not at situation itself. I feel that we lose to many loved ones to such mistakes and in a way we are responsible for not being there when needed. Miles and life come between us and we often forget to just pick up the phone to say hey how ya doin so, call a loved one today and see how they are.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 06/29/2011

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I'm very sorry for your loss :(



I'm not sure about all that you are asking, law wise or anything but I wonder why his doctor/s deemed him okay to be released after 3 months? And under the release, did they make sure he kept having contact or someone to help him? Some form of ongoing analysis of his condition? If not, I would wonder why... expecially now that the very thing he was institutionalized for ended up happening. Isn't that, not to sound rude, but their job to help as much as possible? I know if I was that doctor, I'd be calling bi-weekly...........

Teresa - posted on 06/29/2011

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I have a close family member who has struggled with prescription meds addiction. I really wish I could have put them in a care facility to help them through. The only option was to wait for her to be arrested and hope a judge would require inpatient treatment. Very sad. She did finally overcome it but it was a 3 year struggle that put us all through hell. If you don't have money for a good treatment facility, your options are very limited.

I DO think doctors should be able to put patients in treatment as needed.

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