In the case of opioid pain medication, not only is it often not medically indicated to use these medications, but we also take a significant risk each time we prescribe them. We risk our patient developing a dependence or addiction, we risk the medications being diverted or abused, we risk saddling patients with side effects that can be worse than their primary complaint.
When it comes to drug overdose, we may be winning one battle, but losing the war. As deaths involving prescription painkillers are leveling off, the latest stats on heroin fatalities could not be more dire. What's often lost behind the headlines is that the trends in prescription painkiller and heroin abuse are linked.