While it might seem logical to reach for the painkillers to alleviate pain, it seems that popping pills has become so ingrained in today’s society that it’s our natural go to plan.
Headaches, period pain, joint pain and so on, all taken away with the help of a few tablets.
But what happens when the pain is more severe, or when we or a loved one has endured a trauma, sickness or injury so significant that a practitioner provides prescription medication?
While prescription drugs are often the sensible way to deal with pain management, long term use can have catastrophic results.
In fact in Victoria alone more people die from prescription medication overdose than on the roads.
It’s an alarming statistic which is beginning to command the attention of organisations in Australia, all joining hands to urge the government to make some greatly needed change.
Tim Shakespeare has long been an advocate of healthy living, as the founder of Life Rebel Chiropractic in Carrington, he says he regularly sees how medication has filtered its way into the everyday lives of clients looking to deal with pain.
“About 80 per cent of the people we see are on prescription medication, most commonly for issues such as back pain.
“It’s quite frightening to see how long some people are exposing themselves to high doses of drugs that can have devastating effects,” Tim begins.
It is this devastation that spurred the launch of a not-for-profit organisation called ScriptWise in Australia.
ScriptWise formed in 2014 to amplify the voices of the alarming number of families and individuals affected by the misuse of prescription drugs and has registered an awareness campaign to embark on opening up the conversation around prescription medication.
Its founding patron is Kim Ledger, father of actor Heath Ledger who lost his life to an accidental overdose of prescription medications.
With a raft of ambassadors and board members, many of whom who have experienced first hand, the loss of a loved one, or the impact of prescription medication and a team of medical professionals, ScriptWise is opening the eyes and ears of Australia to the medical emergency that is unfolding.
As a supporter of ScriptWise, Life Rebel Chiropractic is helping to promote its National Prevention of Prescription Medication Dependence Week, from May 14-18.
The week is an initiative of ScriptWise aimed at raising the awareness of the potential harm associated with prescription medication.
“It’s an important issue that is close to whole ethos of everything we do at Life Rebel, to try to enable people to reach their full health potential without the use of drugs.
“Take back pain, it’s now the leading cause of disability and thousands of people are masking it with medication rather than seeking an alternative solution,
“The medication doesn’t address the cause of the pain, it simply hides it and long term can be more damaging,” he added.
Bee Mohamed, CEO of Scriptwise is eager to see more education around the topic of prescription medication so consumers are better informed. Dependence she says can happen quickly and to anyone, suggesting that prescriptions of opioids and benzodiazepines should be a short term treatment strategy only.
“ Dependence can occur as quickly as 4 weeks. It’s a severe issue that is escalating quickly and we can’t afford to waste any more time. We are hopeful that if change is brought about then we can start to tackle this head on.”
While change can move slowly, the more clarity, patients, parents and even GP’s can gain, the better. Simply asking your doctor if the prescribed drug is the best option for you is a start.
One of the changes that ScriptWise is eager to explore is for the government to implement a software system that gives GP’s access to the prescription history of a patient. Surprisingly, if a patient is obtaining multiple prescriptions there’s no way for a GP to know, thus when there is a dependency and an increased need for more drugs, there’s little control in place to enable GP’s to see when someone is at risk.
“I’ve seen some devastating cases in my role here at ScriptWise. If we can trigger any amount of change then we may be saving lives,” added Bee.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with prescription medication, talk to your GP to find out what alternative treatment is available. For more information visit www.scriptwise.org.au