White Collar Drug Addiction - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/14/03

White Collar Drug Addiction

With all the talk about Rush Limbaugh and his addiction to pain killers, some explanations are in order. Would a doctor prescribe a medicine that is addictive?

The answer is, of course, yes, because there are times when people need strong painkillers-after surgery, severe injury, certain painful diseases. Opioids, as they are called, are very effective. It has also been shown that the vast majority of people who use these medicines properly, for the right reason, do not become addicted.

Opioids are drugs whose chemical formulas mimic opium. They work by attaching to sites in the body, the brain, spinal cord, or intestinal track, and provide a painkiller that is very like chemicals made by the body itself. They block pain messages to the brain.

Side effects include drowsiness, constipation, and depressed respiration. When taken over a long period of time, they can cause tolerance, which is the need for higher doses to obtain the same effect.

The body becomes used to the presence of these drugs with the result that when they are stopped, there are withdrawal symptoms. When they stop taking the drugs, people feel pain in bones and muscles, may have cold flashes, and suffer from insomnia, and other symptoms. This is a sign of physical dependence on the drugs.

Psychological dependence or addiction is an extreme craving or desire to use a drug and the addicted person will do anything to get the drug.

Unlike the so called 'street drugs,' a number of prescribed drugs have become the drug of choice for a white, upscale, group of people. Among those who have become addicted to these painkillers are Nicole Bush, niece of the President, Mathew Perry, the actor, and, of course, Rush.

Some of the drugs include hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Lortab. Oxycontin, sometimes call "hillbilly heroin," is a schedule II drug and is closely monitored but is still available on the black market. Hydrocodone is a schedule III drug and can be obtained quite easily through bogus call-in prescription schemes on the Internet.

When the media focuses on these cases, some legislators and others call for tougher laws to govern the use of these drugs. This is a mistake in Kae's opinion, as it will only interfere with the doctor's ability to prescribe certain drugs for legitimate uses. It will end up hurting those people who really need them and who could not function without them.

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