Pain Clinics are becoming much too prevalent, especially in Florida, and need to be shut down. Pill Mills are making prescription medications easily accessible, making abuse of prescription medication much more prevalent.
There are about 70 McDonald’s in Broward County. Seems like a lot right? However, it doesn’t seem like that much when you compare it to the about 117 pain clinics, or as they’re commonly referred to as “pill mills”. Pain clinics are making access to prescription medicines much too easy. In the past few years there has not only been a spike of pain clinics in Florida, but also a spike of prescription drug abuse. Although, not all prescription drug abuse is caused by the pain clinics, they do have a huge impact.
According to drugabuse.gov there are three commonly abused prescription drugs. Those drugs being: opioids, CNS Depressants, and Stimulants. I’m going to explain each of those drugs in a little more detail. Opioids are used to treat pain. Prescription opioids are also known as narcotics. Some examples of prescription opioids are Morphine, Codeine, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Demerol. Opioids act on the same receptors as heroin and therefore can be highly addictive. CNS Depressants are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. These types of drugs are not only highly addictive but come with severe withdrawal symptoms. In chronic users or abusers, discontinuing them without a physician’s guidance can result in severe withdrawal symptoms such as life-threatening seizures. Also, high doses can cause severe respiratory depression. Ex. Benzodiazepines. Stimulants are used to treats things such as ADHD and Narcolepsy. Misuse of these drugs can cause things such as psychosis, seizures and cardiovascular complications.
These were a few facts and statistics that really shocked me. According to a national survey on drug use and health in 2008 15.2 million American’s ages and older had taken prescription medication for nonmedical use. According to the Monitoring the Future survey from 2009 (an annual survey given out by the NIDA-National Institute on Drug Abuse) Nearly 1 in 10 high school seniors reported nonmedical use of oxycotin. Out of those students 54% of them said that they were even given to them or bought from a friend or a relative. An article on Tampabay.com states that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released a report that found that there were 1,185 deaths caused by oxycodone in Florida alone in 2009. According to myaddiction.com there was a 65% increase in hospitalizations due to prescription drug overdose between 1999 and 2006.
Now, I’m going to tell you how pain clinics work and why I believe that they are bad. I don’t doubt that some of the people that visit pain clinics are truly in pain and pain medication can be costly if you don’t have insurance. However, there has to be a better alternative than the pain clinics. Pain clinics are commonly referred to as “pill mills” because of how easily they give out their medication. Here is a video to show how these clinics work.So as you can see from the video, these pain clinics make it very easy for patients to get prescription medications. The lady in the video mentioned an MRI, however, the MRI doesn’t need to show that there is actually anything wrong with you, it just needs to be in their file. On addictionblog.com it states that in 2008 on new pain clinic opened per week. It also states that the top 25 physicians prescribing oxycotin in the U.S are in Broward County. In April of 2010 the Broward County Grand Jury issued a 70 page report on the “proliferation of pain clinics in South Florida” they concluded that in the past 2 years the number of pain clinics in South Florida mushroomed from 4 to 176, dumping 9 million dose units of Oxycodone in our community every 6 months. These pain clinics have no tracking systems to prevent patients from getting multiple pill prescriptions. Most of the clinics have on-site pharmacies making it even easier for the patients because they don’t need to go to a pharmacy. Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti noted that the Sheriff’s Office has found pain clinic doctors writing prescriptions for up to 300 pills – enough of a supply to last five months. He said that encourages abuse and is responsible for out-of-state residents coming here for pain medicine. Sheriff Al Lamberti also says. “You need a background check to get a liquor license – you can’t be a convicted felon and open up a bar – but you can be a convicted felon and open up a pain clinic.” It is not required to be a doctor to run a pain management clinic.
Laws have been passed that have resulted in some of these pain clinics to be shut down. However, too many of the clinics are outsmarting the laws and scrambling to stay open.
Personally, I don’t feel that it is enough for just a few of these clinics to be shut down. I feel that there should be absolutely none of these clinics, anywhere. If you are in legitimate pain then you can work with a legitimate doctor to deal with it. If you were to Google pain clinics in Florida, you are likely to run across articles about pain clinics being shut down. Which of course is good, but what people aren’t realizing is that when one pain clinic shuts down another pops up somewhere else. In fact, according to the New Times, it was difficult to get an accurate number of pain clinics in Broward County because of how often they shut down and reopen in new locations. However, all of the organizations that attempted to count the number all counted over 100. One thing that upset me during my research was that there really weren’t many suggestions on what civilians could do to help shut down these pain clinics. However there are many organizations that are against drug use and there were some petitions to sign. If you Google petition against pain clinics you will be able to find some of them. However they can be difficult to find, which is sad.
These pain clinics are an epidemic and more people need to know about them.
Next time you’re driving keep a look out and see how many pain clinics you see.
The best thing that we can do to aid in shutting these pain clinics down is to stay away and to keep or family and friends informed. If you or someone you know has a problem with prescription medication abuse there are many steps that you can take. One number that you can call is 877-237-3307, that number is for Narconon and they can refer you to a drug rehabilitation center.