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Used widely for the treatment of chronic and acute pain, prescription narcotics are commonly being identified as the source of addiction, vehicle accidents, and death. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, physicians are beginning to recognize the problem and are actively seeking alternative methods of pain relief.
In a recent survey of primary care physicians, 9 out of 10 doctors felt that prescription narcotics are of great concern. Though the same percentage felt comfortable with their decision to prescribe these medications, they expressed concern about the potential for adverse effects. It is believed that even with use as prescribed that there is significant risk of tolerance and addiction.
The medical community has relied heavily on narcotic pain relievers, opioids such as Oxycontin, for the treatment of pain. Many believe that the practitioners have been over-reliant on these drugs for addressing pain. Recently, however, doctors have begun suggesting alternative treatments such as physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture.
In 2010 alone, prescription narcotics were responsible for over 38,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States alone. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S. It is the expectation that with less reliance, and the use of alternative treatments, that the problem can be addressed. In the meantime, emergency responders are being equipped with the opioid antagonist naloxone for treating life threatening overdose.