Heart of a Lion, Hands of a Woman: What Women Neurosurgeons Do
On Sale now at AANS Marketplace

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Kids Told Me

With their usual candor, my two college-age kids have told me that the current rage on campus (beyond the usual alcohol and marijuana) are...various prescription drugs.  Everything from adderall for academic performance enhancement to percocet for Saturday night buzz-college students across the country are transforming legal medicines into recreational tools.  As a physician who writes many prescriptions for narcotic pain medications (there is little a painful as a multi-level spinal fusion), I have gained a new appreciation for the potential impact I may be having on our young adults.  

The way I see it, these drugs are getting to campuses in one of a few ways:
  1. Kids are stealing them directly from their parent's medicine cabinets (for use or sale),
  2. Patients are selling all or a portion of the Rx that doctors write them,
  3. Doctors are getting paid for Rx writing mills (more than one physician in my community has been caught red handed in this scenario), or
  4. Drugs are being stolen from pharmacies or similar.
Some of you may be saying, so what? In every generation, the youth will find a way-in my college years the drugs were quaaludes and cocaine, for a while ecstasy and meth were all the rage (and still are in some places), why should the current fad prick up my skin? I guess as a physician who is committed to healing, I loath the idea that I may be contributing to addiction and ill-health.  Is there anything we, as conscientious physicians and/or parents can do?  I would recommend the following:
  1. Mandatory directed education on narcotics, particularly on setting strong office policies that help prevent abuse,
  2. Public awareness campaign regarding protecting medicine cabinets,
  3. Accelerate reporting to physicians of patients receiving prescriptions from multiple physicians,
  4. Provide greater incentive for physicians services related to drug detox/withdrawal (currently no specialty takes this on as their responsibility outside the extremes of inpatient drug addition facilities).
If you have other ideas, I would love to hear them-it is time we as physicians gain an increased awareness of how we may be inadvertently contributing to "unhealth", not part of our Hippocratic Oath.

1 comment: