Prescription Drug Abuse, or pill addiction as it is commonly called, and, ultimately, ‘pill withdrawal’ have been with us since doctors began prescribing drugs, but has become more widespread since the advent of the ‘repeat prescription’ or ‘refill’, whereby patients can have a prescription renewed without having to visit their doctor. This can be as simple for many people as visiting a pharmacy and filling out a form giving their name, address and the drug they want. This is then returned to the surgery for the doctor to countersign. The problem is that these can often be signed as routine, rather than consideration being given to the need, and so facilitating prescription drug abuse.
If a certain patient begins to request repeats more often, would this be noticed? Theoretically it should, but in practice it is frequently not. Not, that is, until the next review. Frequently, twelve repeats are allowed before the patient must again speak to the doctor personally to review the treatment. Prescription drug abuse, and resultant pill withdrawal symptoms, are generally overlooked by the medical profession.
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