The prescription of opioids for auto accident victims suffering from chronic pain has reached an epidemic proportion, creating a healthcare crisis, Dr. Arthur Ameis said.
Ameis spoke as a panel member at the Canadian Defence Lawyers seminar on accident benefits held in Toronto on Oct. 21, 2011.
Ameis said medical practitioners have shifted away from a "phobia" about opioids – Oxycontin and Percocet, for example – to the point where they are being over-prescribed.
"Research shows that the number of opioids prescribed in auto insurance schemes is now worse than the abuse seen in the population at large," he said. "The number of people dying from mishaps related to narcotics are triple or quadruple what it was a few years ago. This is now a healthcare crisis."
Ameis noted that only one out of three people can he helped with opioids for chronic pain. "What we don't see are the other two in three being taken off of the medication. Instead we see people stay on it, and on it, and on it."
He also pointed to the prescription of cannabis as a growing problem.
"The federal government has given a very weak guideline, saying only that it is a good drug for nausea or pain," he said. "The trouble is that it's also causing the masking of psychosis in vulnerable people and it's causing apathy syndromes. And you have a cannabis intoxication: people are driving because they are under the impression that, since it's not alcohol, they can drive with it."
Medical practitioners have pushed the use of these drugs into over-indulgence, he said. Now the auto insurance realm is worse than anywhere else.
"We see so many patients taking narcotics for chronic pain," he said. "They are not getting better, they are not getting active, but they are on overwhelming doses."
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