Drug dependency continues to be a challenge for the pharmaceutical community

Physical dependence on these products has led some patients to serious health complications and even death.

Idalia Bonilla, president-elect of the College of Pharmacists of the Island. Photo: Photo supplied to the Journal of Medicine and Public Health.

the abuse of medicines Prescription and non-prescription is a growing problem, one that can affect almost anyone, even teenagers. This situation can reach chronic and compulsive extremes, even when the first resulting complications begin to manifest.

Due to the properties to be able to intervene in the mental functioning, the cases of abuse of medicines they usually involve opioids, to treat pain; anxiolytics and sedatives, ideal for treating some disorders such as anxiety and sleep; and stimulants, frequently used to treat hyperactivity and attention deficit.

The truth is that consuming excessive amounts of medicines prescribed, can have a strong impact on health, even leading to the death of the patient. There is also the risk that some other reaction may be caused if they are combined with other over-the-counter drugs, alcohol or illegal substances are consumed.

To delve deeper into the subject, the Journal of Medicine and Public Health spoke with Ms. Idalia Bonilla, current president of pharmacists in Puerto Rico, who explained that currently the crisis due to this problem has been caused by the abuse of medicines to treat some mental disorders.

“There is a lot of insomnia today, due to the situations we have experienced over the years. That is why the pharmacist has a very important role in education on this issue, and he must be aware that there is no excessive consumption of patients who are being treated with this medication.

The expert explained that the pharmacological area is managed through a digital platform through which it is possible to inquire into the patient’s prescription history, in order to have more real and precise control over their treatment.

“Pharmacists are being strict and responsible because the problem of drug addiction medicines, it is a serious matter. Many overdose deaths from products used for chronic pain have already been seen, mostly in terminally ill patients.”

Unfortunately, these cases have a higher percentage of prevalence in the older population, since, due to the various ailments that they may present, or conditions that are diagnosed, the greater the probability that these people prefer to look for additional alternatives to the medication that they already have. It was prescribed to them by the expert.

“There will come a point where the patient, no matter how hard they try to stop consuming these drugs, cannot do so, and the truth is that they must be discontinued little by little,” he acknowledged. “I always say that one of the most important roles that pharmacists have is precisely to prevent the abuse of these substances.”

Signs of addiction in patients

Unfortunately, and as in other types of addictions, drug abuse is often manifested by anxiety about not taking it, the need to consume higher doses, some mood swings, the urge to ask for more prescriptions from specialists and aggressiveness when these requests are not accepted.

Physically, these people also begin to show tremors, excessive sweating, muscle weakness, among others. “The patient reaches a point where it seems that the body is detoxifying any other non-legal drug,” added the attorney.

“Although medicines are in a pharmacy, it does not mean that they are less dangerous. It is common to see that patients become aggressive when we tell them that they are repeating that medication out of time”.

Other symptoms that we must take into consideration are increased or decreased sleep hours, changes in behavior, appetite changes, paranoia, irregular heartbeat, deterioration in work or academic performance, among others.

Self-medication: another medical problem

Culturally, most of the general population has a medicine cabinet at home stocked with medicines most common for ailments that may occur, many of these drugs do not require a prescription. This, however, does not mean that they are advisable for all people, since there is always a risk of complications, allergies and reactions with other treatments.

“We have problems with older adults, whose metabolism is slower, so the pills pile up. Another characteristic that we also see a lot is that patients arrive who consume 5 or 10 medicines different, and they may not know how this can affect their health”

Although it is true that drugs fulfill a specific function in the body, there is a fine line between consuming them with the certainty that they are helping us, and masking a new symptom.

“We must monitor the treatments, identify if there is duplication of therapy, and we will be intervening in the therapeutic management programs with medicines and patient adherence to them”.

Finally, Ms. Bonilla highlights the need to keep the pharmaceutical community in constant training on the subject, in order to prevent complications in patients who misuse their treatments as a response mechanism to the symptoms of the disease that suffer.

“We are legislating so that, soon, doctors can also be part of the platforms on which patient information is uploaded, which are the ones we use. In this way, all the professionals who have contact with a specific person will be able to access their history and minimize these risks”, the expert concluded.

See the full program: