Monday, December 2, 2013

Abuse and Misuse of Pain Medications



Dr. Mark Sullivan, from the University of Washington, outlined new definitions of abuse and misuse of pain medications, in a recent article in the prestigious journal, PAIN. I have provided the reference below.

Misuse is defined as   "Any intentional therapeutic use of a drug product in an inappropriate way".

Therapeutic uses could include taking extra medication to treat higher that normal pain levels, using pain medications to help with insomnia, depression or fatigue.

Abuse is defined as   "Any intentional, non-therapeutic use of a drug product or substance, even once".

Non-therapeutic uses could include taking pain medication for euphoria or to get high, or for self-harm.

I have been working with people in pain for over 25 years. Over 90% of my patients suffer from diagnosable and legitimate sources of pain. Most of my patients follow their doctors orders for taking their pain medication. When they do get off-track, it is usually a case of misuse not abuse.

These definitions are important. They can help all treatment providers, insurers, lawyers, and the justice system be more clear about how medications are used and not lump all problem situations into the drug abuse category.

Yours with care - Mike

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