The Opioid Epidemic and Drug-Seeking Behavior

The Opioid Epidemic and Drug-Seeking Behavior

By Crystal Tsui

AMA Journal of Ethics states there has been a 300% increase in opiates in the US. What does this mean for the people? Well, drug availability increases when the demands for opiates increase. Long story short, patients with complaints of pain are getting addicted to opiates and are relying on opiates as pain medication when it’s not entirely necessary. Doctors and nurses in the Emergency department are in the frontlines of this epidemic. They see patients with all sorts of complaints, but over 500,000 ED visits are patients with drug-seeking behavior, specifically for opiates. Different types of opiates include:

  • Heroin
  • Oxycodone
  • Percocet
  • Morphine
  • Tramadol

How did the epidemic begin? Doctors and nurses would prescribe their patients opiates just to improve the flow of the ED. However, recently the epidemic has gotten worse. Patients have learned different catch phrases and to over exaggerate their pain to get these opiates. Such as “headaches”, “back pains”, “neck pain”, and even “dental pain”, or rate their pain higher on the scale of 10.

So, how do doctors and nurses know when to give opiates for patients complaining of pain? The answer to the tough question is quite simple, they don’t. Opiates are always a last resort and there are other pain medications out there that treat everyday pain. The most common are:

  • ibuprofen (motrin)
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • aspirin (advil)
  • steroids

If you or someone you know is addicted to opiates do not be afraid to reach out for help with pain management or drug addiction.

If you or someone you know a drug addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit .


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