Pharmaceutical Drug Abuse

Pharmaceutical Drug Abuse

Drug abuse and addiction are widespread and increasing in modern society, not only in the illicit, but also the prescriptive pharmaceutical area. Whilst the problem is far from having a simplistic solution, I will attempt to examine it from perspectives not commonly raised or explored.

The first issue to recognise is that the underlying psychological pattern in illicit and prescriptive drug use is similar in many ways, it is just at the legal end of the spectrum they differ. After all, we are taught from a very young age that there is a pill for every complaint, so it is not surprising that as an adults we would continue the same behaviour. The concern here is that we are also taught – in a somewhat fearful manner – that any ailment has to be fixed or got rid of. The consequence of this is that many traumas that we need for our development and maturity, both physically and psychologically, may be avoided and leave us in a more vulnerable state. So it is all that surprising that we have an escalating problem with drug abuse, both legal and illicit?

In the article at the foot of the post the problem is being explored and could be dealt with at the wrong end of the chain of events. To further punish people, particularly at the end of their lives, for behaviour our culture has taught them, seems unjust. We should be tackling problems like this more systemically and holistically, and use education in a more patent and honest manner.

A further issue is that many actions taken are the result of abuse by certain sections of the population, but may not reflect the population as a whole. In this area of analgesics and tranquillizers this is particularly the case and responsible people may be unjustly caught up in this process. Hinted at in this article is the added concern that it is the system itself that may have a hand in creating the problem. Here it is when people leave hospital, often having been overexposed to drugs when within, but there are wider implications of this pattern in the medical system at large. Surely better education, maybe on both sides of the coin, would be the first step here?

Also, we do not avail ourselves of other methods of dealing with pain and mental anxiety generally, and not just when in hospital. One plus side of the ‘New Age’ era is that we have a lot of non-chemical ways of helping deal with these problems with physical methods like yoga and T’ai Chi, and mental approaches such as meditation, contemplation and specific ones like visualisation. Maybe these should be taught in hospitals – and to our youth rather than going to the medicine cupboard?

A further factor of concern is that there is a great divide in our culture with drugs. Not only does this exist between illicit and pharmaceutical, when in reality they are not that dissimilar in the background patterns, but also with the nature of the drugs themselves. We seem to condone ‘downers’ that distance ourselves from anything troubling, like pain and anxiety, but condemn ‘uppers’ that may liberate us from the patterns we are in and gain a different perspective. Is this our somewhat paternalist governing institutions and their desire for control… do they fear the insights that people may gain from such exposure?

If we look to our immediate history, there was a time around 50 years ago when this exploration was quite open; the example of LSD is the most obvious. Although found to have widespread application, particularly therapeutically, its somewhat open ‘promotion’ by adherents such as Timothy Leary caused it to be a public concern and made illegal for somewhat spurious reasons. Along with this went all the so-called psychedelic drugs and their potential application in the psychological realms, such that they are now in the hands of the illicit trade, with all the consequences of this.

There are many more points, but these few may serve to show that we need a far broader and more holistic examination of the problem at all levels, before we rush into restrictions of an often political nature. This approach also demands that we be more reflective and self-responsible as a society and that governing bodies may need to look at the repressive patterns in what they are doing, because they may then act like a drug and simply postpone the problem, hoping it will all “go away”.

This is a topic that I am sure we will return to many times and from different angles. It concerns and affects all of us.


PAINKILLERS and tranquillisers would be sold in smaller packs and subject to online tracking under a plan to address the growing problem of pharmaceutical drug abuse.

A new framework endorsed by health ministers says greater availability of opioids and benzodiazepines in Australia in recent years has caused more addiction, overdoses, trafficking and crime. With the ageing population, there is concern the prevalence of painful conditions and anxiety disorders will only increase, raising the risk of a new older generation of drug addicts.

The experts who developed the framework believe doctors and pharmacists need support to ensure the correct use of medicine and, along with consumers, may need to be made aware of other options — including non-drug alternatives — for treatment of pain, mental health problems, sleep disorders and addiction.

A priority will be the launch of a national Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs System, providing real-time alerts about problem customers or dispensers, along with tougher regulations.

The scheduling of opioids and benzodiazepines may be reviewed and those drugs removed from advertising in pharmacy price lists, while the potential harm associated with misuse will be given greater consideration when deciding whether and how drugs should be subsidised.

“The large pack size of some medications available may not reflect their intended short-term use,” the framework says.

“This is a particular issue for some patients discharged from hospital on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme-subsidised medications. It is also an issue for patients presenting with conditions such as anxiety and insomnia who can receive quantities of benzodiazepines, which last longer than the recommended period of usage. This can lead to the development of tolerance and dependence that may be difficult to reverse.”

Source: The Australian