Analgesic Abuse and Growing Trends - Australian Journal of Pharmacy

Pharmacists can help to stem the overuse of analgesics which is a growing trend in the US, killing more people from heroin or coke, says Dr Ben Teoh.

Dr Teoh is a Medical Superindendent at South Pacific Private, a leading mental health and addiction treatment centre He has recently presented a series of round table events with GPs about the oversupply of strong analgesics.

While Dr Teoh’s focus is on GPs, he definitely sees a role for pharmacists to help people, in a non-judgemental way, to help prevent people heading down the same path as the US, which according to reports, deaths resulting from prescription opioids. Deaths tripled between the between 1999 and 2007. 

Additionally, research shows that more people in the US die from opioid analgesic overdose than from heroin or cocaine overdoses. While this may not be the case in Australia yet, it is well known that prescription drug abuse is growing, says Dr Teoh.

Dr Teoh says there is a fine-line between a pain patient and a drug abuser, as research shows that 63% of pain patients admit to using opioids for purposes other than pain. That’s why Dr Teoh stresses the importance of taking a holistic approach, which looks at underlying core issues which can include social trauma and family dynamics. "It is not enough to just quit ‘cold-turkey’ as addictive behaviour is also psychological; not just a physical craving for the drug.”

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