Methadone, a prescription painkiller originally used in treatment centers, is fast becoming one of the top causes of narcotic related deaths in the country, a New York Times report revealed. Across the county, methadone related or induced deaths have reached 4.462 in total, which is a fivefold increase of the same from 1999-2000.
Experts place the blame regarding these alarming figures on lack of oversight from the federal government and the unchecked prescribing practices of doctors and other health care professionals.
Methadone prescriptions as a painkiller are reported to have increased by as much as 700% from the years 1998 to 2006. The effect of this increased prescription was compounded by a higher starting dosage recommendations released by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA. The said agency unwittingly labeled inserts and packages with an alarmingly high starting dosage of 80mg per day.
Recognizing this fault, the FDA has since lowered the recommended starting dosage to 30mg per day. However, the problem with careless prescription remains to be resolved.
Several experts on narcotics have recommended to the FDA to require doctors to attend special classes regarding the proper prescription of methadone and other narcotics. According to Dr. Howard Heit, a pain specialist in Georgetown University, the drug is wonderful medicine if used appropriately but a very dangerous one when consumed improperly. This, alone, is enough reason for careful and proper prescription of methadone should be practiced.
A difficult drug
Methadone, as mentioned above, used to be administered only in dependency treatment centers as a replacement of heroin. This was until the 1990s when a change in medical attitude towards pain emerged. The drug has since posed as a cheaper alternative to OxyContin.
Doctors began to prescribe the drug but a lot of them make hasty prescription without understanding the possible adverse effects of the drug. According to Dr. Bob Rappaport , a division director at the Food and Drug Administration, “Methadone is an extremely difficult drug to use, even for specialists. People were using it rather blithely for several years.”
Some of the problems, which according too Dr. Rappaport were slow to be recognized, are too fast prescription which caused the drug to build up at dangerous levels in the body, failure give warnings to patients about the dangers of mixing the drug with alcohol an sedatives, and lack of contact with patients during the crucial first week of using the drug.
Education is key
In efforts to address the rising alarm over methadone related deaths and careless precription, the government have began to sponsor voluntary classes that aim to teach doctors the precautions they must take with methadone, such as checking for addictive tendencies.
Meanwhile, you too can benefit a lot from proper education about addictive drug in order to help your friends and loved ones. You can get this information and help here at Miramar Recovery Centers.