For most people, thoughts of drug addiction and drug trafficking will come in images of street dealers and people living in rough neighborhoods who started using drugs while still in school. However, the opioid epidemic can affect people from every background. People who are successful and who have supportive families can still succumb to addiction.
Many people addicted to opioids, opiates and heroin started their journey down that dangerous road as a result of a prescription from their physician. Pain control is a critical element of modern medicine. Extreme pain can cause cardiac distress or shock, which can prove fatal in some cases. Beyond that, pain management can have a lot to do with a patient’s perspective on life and their willingness to fight for a positive outcome when facing severe, potentially deadly conditions, like cancer.
Physicians have an ever-growing array of prescription medications available to help their patients manage their pain. Sadly, some physicians are all too eager to hand out addictive and dangerous medications to people who may not have needed them in the first place.
Opioid overdoses have exploded
Opiates, which are naturally-derived painkillers, as well as heroin, have caused overdoses and addiction for decades. However, the influx of modern, highly potent synthetic opiates, like fentanyl, has drastically increased the number of people struggling with opioid or opiate addiction and the number of overdoses every year.
Tens of thousands of individuals die of opioid overdoses each year. Data from 2018 indicates that 47,600, people die annually from opioid overdoses. This sharp increase in fatalities has led to more emergency service providers carrying Narcan, a drug that can reverse an opioid or opiate overdose and potentially save someone’s life. However, there are still thousands of people who don’t get treated with Narcan and who have died or will die as a result of their addiction.
Are doctors responsible for the addiction of their patients?
Every human has free will, but those experiencing extreme pain or medical hardship may not make the best decisions. Physicians often don’t adequately educate their patients about the real risks that certain forms of pain management can pose for their long-term health and recovery.
If you have found yourself struggling with addiction due to a doctor who was overly eager to prescribe narcotic painkillers, who gave you far too many pills or refills based on the circumstances, or who failed to warn you about the addictive potential of the drugs and monitor your response, your physician may be partially responsible for your current difficulties due to substandard medication practices.
Both those struggling with addiction and family members who have lost a loved one to an opiate or opioid addiction that began with prescription medications may have grounds to bring a claim against the prescribing physician.