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Dr. Chris: Pain medicine use in teens

We are continuing to see a major problem with prescription pain killers becoming addictive and leading to serious life destructive behaviors. Every year in our hospital we care for 10s of newborns that are born addicted to narcotics that their mothers take for pleasure.

Many of these women are young and got their first taste of the drugs from a provider prescription after a legitimate injury or a parent’s medicine cabinet.

I feel very sad for them, as the addictive power of these medicines is relentless.

In the journal Pediatrics this year, Dr. Miech and colleagues looked at legitimate opiod use and later risk of abuse.

She states, “Use of prescribed opioids before the 12th grade is independently associated with future opioid misuse among patients with little drug experience and who disapprove of illegal drug use. Clinic-based education and prevention efforts have substantial potential to reduce future opioid misuse among these individuals, who begin opioid use with strong attitudes against illegal drug use.”

If this study is correct, which I believe it is (based on the volume of addicts now that we over-prescribe opioids), the best way to avoid the future addict is to avoid these drugs unless absolutely necessary and then only prescribe a few days worth.

I have not written for these drugs, with the exception of sickle cell disease patients, in years.

These drugs are bad news. They are so effective at blocking pain that they block our ability to perceive that the pain is a signal that healing needs to occur before we use a damaged part of our body. The focus needs to be on healing the injury with the least amount of medicine possible.

Consider acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, physical therapy and many other modalities in conjunction with judicious rest and medical management to heal the body. Healing is the only route to success, and narcotics when overused are a serious impediment to healing. There is a litany of literature showing that these medicines are never a good choice past the immediate severe injury related pain timeframe.

If you have left over narcotics in your house, destroy them. See the DEA site for disposal details. I am a little concerned with the DEA flushing campaign as low levels in our drinking water brings up the question of hormetic physiologic effects. I prefer the idea of a DEA sponsored collector.

Destroy these poisons before your kids have a chance to make a mistake!

Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at newsletter@salisburypediatrics.com

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