Friday, January 19, 2007

doctor patient relationship, prescription drug users, Your Doctor and You - Sixth in a Series


The weller you are the more drugs you can take without getting sick.”

Eugene Stead, MD, “Aphorisms from Eugene Stead, Jr.,” Annals of Internal Medicine, 1968

You’re under 25. You’ve rarely been sick in your life, except for a bad cold or perhaps a bout of mononucleosis or an athletic injury.

You don’t worry much about health insurance. Why spend money on health care premiums, when you have electronic toys, clothes, and cars to buy; boys or girls to chase; places to travel; events to attend, parties to go to; and pleasures to pursue.

Speaking of pleasures, you’re in the fun phase of your life. You’re healthy. The world’s your oyster. You have new things to try, new things to do, new experiments to undertake– before age and reality force you to settle down.

Occasionally, at parties with your friends, you try a drug or two, a new drink, a drag of marijuana, or a street drug.

You’ve heard prescription drugs alter your mood and give you a high. You can get prescription drugs and don’t ever have to see a doctor. You have friends whose parents are addicted to pills, and you borrow from them. You have other friends who take drugs for their ailments. They get lots of pills and sell them cheap. You don’t worry. As long as prescription drugs are taken right, they’re much safer than street drugs.

You’re an Internet browser. There you learn about mood and mind altering drugs and their main and side effects. You can even order drugs online.

In a democracy, you’re free to exercise choices, to do what you want to do. You’re bent on pursuing happiness, no matter what the risks. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

The Doctor’s Role

Doctors are the only ones who can legally prescribe drugs. They tend to think you’ll follow their directions. You know better. In fact, you may know more about these drugs than they do. Besides, you can always google and bring up this kind of information from the Boston Consulting Group and Harris Interactive.

Imperfect Patients

Many patients say they do not follow doctors’ orders. They cite a number of reasons for not taking their prescribed drugs.

In the past 12 months have you…

not filled a prescription 18 percent

sometimes forgot to use or refill 24 percent

delayed filling a prescription 26 percent

didn’t want the side effects 20 percent

taken a medication in smaller doses than prescribed 14 percent

the drug costs too much
17 percent

taken a medication less often 30 percent

don’t think you need the drug 14 percent

stopped taking a medication sooner than prescribed 21 percent

couldn’t get the prescription 1o percent
filled, picked up, or delivered

If doctors can’t control how their own patients follow prescriptions, how can they expect young people like you to follow doctors' instructions? Doctors can’t. That’s why you experiment. You occasionally use drugs like Vicodin and Ritalin. Why not? They’re easy to get. And you can mix them with alcohol or marijuana – anything for a high.

Sure, you hear occasionally about overdoses, even deaths, but that’s what happens to others – not to you. After all, you’re young and healthy. You have no where to go but up.

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