There’s a lot of talk on the news about the pain pill epidemic that’s sweeping through the country — but there’s relatively little conversation happening about how addicts can kick the addiction safely — and the role that their doctors need to play.
Someone who has been using pain pills and other narcotics, like Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, Adderall and Ambien can’t simply stop all the drug use at once without putting his or her body under extreme stress — and his or her life in serious danger.
If a doctor knows that a patient has become addicted to pain medication or some other form of controlled substance, there are two basic choices that are medically responsible:
- Put that patient in an inpatient facility where he or she can detox from the drugs and receive whatever treatment is necessary to make the process as safe as possible. That may include, for example, putting a patient into a medically-induced coma to get drugs like methadone out of their system quickly without putting the patient through terrifying hallucinations, extreme emotional distress and physical symptoms that could range from sweating and uncontrollable movements to seizures and death.
- Wean the patient off the drugs slowly and carefully over a period of several months by gradually reducing the dosage in small increments and giving his or her body and brain time to adjust to the new dose before making another reduction. This is obviously the longer route, and it can be harder to do if the patient has a hard time adjusting to the changes in dosage — but it can be the safer alternative physically. (Some patients may even choose to go this route in an inpatient setting.)
Even patients who aren’t psychologically addicted to the drugs could be physically addicted — which means they cannot just stop “cold turkey.”
Any doctor that forces a patient to abruptly stop medication instead of offering to either admit that patient to the hospital for a fast withdrawal or working with the patient to reduce his or her dependence through a tapered dose may be guilty of malpractice — especially if that patient suffers an injury.
If you believe that you were injured as a result of an unnecessary and untreated drug withdrawal or a close relative died due a similar issue, talk to a malpractice attorney today.
Source: Consumer Reports, “Avoid Withdrawal Symptoms From Prescription Painkillers,” Teresa Carr, accessed Aug. 25, 2017