Getting Opioid Pain Medicine From The Emergency Department

The opioid epidemic in this country has caused a real dilemma for patients dealing with real pain, either chronic or acute. Often, physicians aren’t sure if a person they are seeing is an addict who is drug-seeking or a person experiencing pain. 

Opiate prescriptions in the U.S. have risen 300 percent since 1999. The abuse and misuse of these medications cause more than 500,000 emergency department visits each year. In 2008, there were over 36,000 fatal drug overdoses, and most of those were from opioids. By 2010, more than 12 million Americans stated that they were using opiates recreationally.

Getting Opioid Pain Medicine From The Emergency Department

Addicts Can Be Very Creative People When it Comes to Getting Drugs

Addiction is a chronic brain disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and the inability to stop using drugs despite harmful consequences. 

 The withdrawal symptoms when you have become physically dependent on a drug can be debilitating and make an addict willing to go to any length possible to obtain more. Cravings can also be so intense that an addict will sit for hours thinking of ways to get more.

What To Expect When You Go To The Emergency Room For Opioids?

One way that addicts often try to get opioid pain medication is by going to the emergency department. Unfortunately, the addict will fake an injury or illness in order to try to get a prescription. However, emergency department employees have been trained, and policies have been put into place since so many people continue to die from opioid overdoses.

The National Institute of Health Pain and Therapy “A Review of Current and Emerging Approaches to Pain Management in the Emergency Department” says:

Pain is the most common symptom prompting an emergency department visit and emergency physicians are responsible for managing both acute pain and acute exacerbations of chronic pain resulting from a broad range of illnesses and injuries. The responsibility to treat must be balanced by the duty to limit harm resulting from analgesics. In recent years, opioid-related adverse effects, including overdose and deaths, have increased dramatically in the USA. In response to the US opioid crisis, emergency physicians have broadened their analgesic armamentarium to include a variety of non-opioid approaches. For some of these therapies, sparse evidence exists to support their efficacy for emergency department use. (NIH)

Harder in Getting Prescription Drugs

It has become increasingly more difficult now to obtain prescriptions for opioids in the emergency department. The NIH states that most emergency rooms will try other non-opioid pain medications to treat you first because it is a lot safer. If they do prescribe an opioid, they will review your previous medical and state records. 

Other things that are good to know. If you are given an opioid prescription, the ED will usually not refill the medication, and they will not refill any lost or stolen prescriptions. Prescriptions for controlled substances cannot be called in; you must have a written prescription. If a pain management specialist is already treating you, they will usually not give you an opioid prescription. Emergency room doctors are not specialized in chronic pain. Also, if you have visited the emergency department regularly without seeing your physician, they will usually not give you an opioid prescription.

If you regularly visit the emergency room to get opioid medication, chances are you have a problem. However, there is help and treatment available.

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