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Opioid addiction on the rise

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jun 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 17:31:03-04
He touched the lives of so many with is music. He also suffered with chronic pain. Thursday the world found out that Prince died from an opioid overdose.  And like so many who use these drugs, they self medicate to ease the pain.
 
The journey to addiction is long and opioid addiction is at an all time high. Doctors say the triggers of addiction can be seen as early as childhood. Now they're working to end a vicious cycle.
 
"For most of my patients, they had a genetic disposition, they had early exposure to drugs while they were in the womb," Dr. Lee Tannebaum of the Bel Air Center for Addiction said. "Their mother was maybe smoking cigarettes or smoking pot." 
 
Science shows that people with predispositions like those or anxiety, depression or gene disorders are more likely to become addicted and need drugs like Suboxone to ease opioid addiction.
 
"If you're exposed to these chemicals your brain develops differently," Tannenbaum said. "Then they become physically dependent on the drugs and they can't stop them because they get physically sick."
 
But there's another road to addiction crippling thousands; it's what ultimately killed music legend, Prince.
 
"The other pathway is with people who have none of these issues, but they develop chronic pain," Tannenbaum said.
 
Prince, turned to Fentanyl to perform and ease his pain.
 
"He wasn't happy unless he was working, he had these creative thoughts exploding in his head and he couldn't work because he was in pain," Tannenbaum said.
 
Tannenbaum says the medical community needs to be proactive.
 
"We have to look at prevention which is education. We need to control access," he said.
 
But the way the patient sees medication must change too.
 
"You don't think that taking two pills is going to be the gateway to taking four pills, to taking six pills to taking 10 pills," Tannenbaum said.
 
For now, Tannenbaum says doctors need to stand their ground and avoid opiates when possible.
 
"At some point I have to have some standards at some point, the good of society, has to be better than the good of the individual."
 

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