Kids and Pills; Part 3

So back to kids. If they see you taking pills for pain, they might grow up thinking pills are the solution to pain. If you offer them a pill every time they have a boo boo, they might grow up thinking pills are the solution to boo boos.

And eventually they will be exposed to narcotic pain pills. They might be exposed to them when they are six or eighteen or twenty-seven, but they will be exposed to them eventually. And if you just consider the huge problem with narcotic use we have in the U.S., then you know that many of them will become addicted to these substances. Sure there are some kids who might just be unfortunate enough to have some inherited biochemical or psychological dependency issue, but I see apparently normal individuals slip down the slope to dependency right before my eyes. They’re five weeks out from a minor injury and I discover they are still taking narcotic pain pills on a regular basis. And they’re asking for more. Maybe they even got some from another doc.

And when I suggest that they consider stopping the medications, or taking something like Tylenol, they get agitated or angry and claim they can’t sleep without them or they can’t work without them. They’re becoming dependent! I have to begin a process of counseling and cajoling them to get them to quit. Sometimes I even have to begin a process of tapering their dose so they don’t go into some form of withdrawal. They’re not bad people. They’re not selling the drugs. They have just become dependent on narcotics because they weren’t paying attention and they figured a pain pill was what you took when you had any degree of pain. They have pain…they need pain pills. And because of the way pain pills work on your brain…this behavior can result in dependency even in the most stalwart of us.

It’s a huge national problem. We docs are tied up in it because we’re the ones who prescribe pain pills. They’re legal!

We also get waylaid by patients who are selling drugs. They go from doctor to doctor, ER to ER, trying to seek doctors who will prescribe pain pills to them for injuries which we can’t deny; like back pain or sprains. We can’t see it on an x-ray or a test, but we basically have to trust that they are telling the truth. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been duped a few times. I prescribe pain pills to someone for an ankle sprain and get a call from the pharmacy later that day. The patient just filled the same script from another doctor the day before.  With street sales of prescription narcotics bringing such a high premium, it’s worth the $10-$30 copay to see a doctor and pretend they’re injured.

So start your kids out early. Don’t give them pills unless something is broken or severely injured. Once a day or two has gone by, stop the pills. Avoid narcotics. Just because you might use them for pain, doesn’t mean your kids need them. Ofttimes Tylenol suffices…even for broken bones!

Remember RICE; Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Remember TLC; Tender Loving Care

Keep lots of gel packs and ice massage cups in the freezer. Recipes next time.

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