The availability of pain medications and a lack of stigma associated with taking them are causing addiction levels to reach epidemic proportions in Nebraska.
Dr. Aly Hassan, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UNMC, says the rise in pain medication addiction can be directly linked to a change in pain management that began in the early 90s.
He says that’s when says doctors began to consider pain the fifth vital sign. Dr. Hassan says part of the issue is pain medications absorb very fast, so the medicine doesn’t stay in the system for long.
He says there are several professional organizations educating physicians about this issue. Pharmaceutical companies are also working to help.
"How to produce formulations that are less amenable to abuse, either by causing significant side effects when patients try to abuse it or once they are used through the routes other than usual routes, they are not effective. So if they are snorted, they are not effective or will cause significant side effects.”
In 2011, Hydrocodone was the most prescribed drug in America.