A report recently released states that as many as twenty-nine percent of those individuals who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain inevitably end up misusing them. Of those in this percentage, up to twelve percent will develop an opioid misuse problem with a then up to four percent actually using opioids as a gateway drug to even worse—heroin.
With these statistics in mind and the ever reported news of the opioid crisis continuing to grow by astronomical numbers, both dentists and doctors are thinking twice before prescribing these ever-popular narcotics. However, what is new to all of this is that veterinarians are also affected by the prescribing of the drugs, and are very cautious of it as well.
Many of the painkillers that veterinarians are prescribing for the care of pets today are the same as those currently on the market for humans as well. Unfortunately, many pet owners use their pet as a means to get the drugs, and in turn abuse them, allowing the pet to remain in pain.
“Most of the pain medications we use for pets are the same as humans,” according to Dr. John Andersen, a veterinarian at Monticello Animal Hospital. “Every day we deal with narcotics, every single day. We do a lot of surgery at this practice, and we are very, very proactive about pain control.” Because he is so proactive he doesn’t have to worry about the pets pain, the worry is more in the pet's owner. The reason being that the majority of the prescriptions he writes for the pets pain are ones that humans are more than able, and willing, to abuse.
In an effort to battle the abuse problem related to veterinarian prescriptions for pets, one state, Virginia, recently passed a law called the Prescription Monitoring Program. With this program, there are much stricter regulations placed on both the type and the number of medications that veterinarians are now able to prescribe.
Although the new law has made some veterinarians jobs a little trickier, most feel it is worth it to prevent any further abuse of the drugs. Most veterinarians also keep it in the back of their mind that although the pet owner may seem to be one without a problem, it is best to err on the side of caution when prescribing any narcotic based drug.
Were you aware this was going on? That some prescriptions from veterinarians were also viable for humans?