Nearly half the United States population uses a prescription medication each month. Over 11 percent use 5 or more prescription drugs.1
When is enough enough, and when is it too much? To answer these questions, it’s important to learn more about overmedication, prescription drug addiction, and your health.
When you’re overmedicated, you’re receiving more medications or greater amounts of one medication than you need for your health. Too much medication can simply be a waste of your money, but it can also cause serious health complications.
Protect yourself or your loved one by taking an in-depth look at what you’re taking, how much you’re taking, and why you’re taking it. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options and make sure he or she is aware of just what it is you’re taking.
Overmedication has several causes and contributors. These may include the following:
Because there are so many potential causes, overmedication is common, and it’s a problem across all age groups and demographics.
Signs and symptoms of overmedication are difficult to diagnosis. They can mimic other mental or physical health conditions — often resulting in another prescription — or even the original condition for which they were prescribed. When multiple drugs are involved, diagnosis becomes even more of a challenge. Symptoms are endless or unpredictable because of the potential interactions.
In other words, if you don’t feel like you think you should — physically or mentally — talk to a doctor about what you are taking before asking about other medications you can add.
A bad drug interaction or overdose can land you in the hospital or even lead to overdose. “Older adults account for about 35 percent of all hospital stays,” PBS reports, “but more than half of the visits that are marred by drug-related complications.”2 And elderly patients aren’t alone in experiencing the serious consequences of overmedication.
Consumer Reports shares that as a whole, “Almost 1.3 million people went to U.S. emergency rooms due to adverse drug effects in 2014, and about 124,000 died from those events.” Many of those were related to prescription, and even prescribed, drug use. And as Consumer Reports continues, “Research suggests that up to half of those events were preventable.” So what can we do about overmedication? How can we protect ourselves and our loved ones?
Communication is key to preventing or addressing overmedication. As mentioned above, make sure both your doctor and pharmacist know exactly what you’re taking, how much, and when.
Most importantly — get help when you need it! Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions, report side effects, ask for second opinions or look for additional mental health care or addiction treatment resources.
We’re here to help you better understand your health and your medications, and we’re here any time you need us. Reach out to Dual Diagnosis at 615-490-9376 to learn more about overmedication and solutions that meet your individual needs. Whether you just have questions or are ready to begin treatment today, we can help.
1 “Americans Taking More Prescription Drugs Than Ever.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 19 Jan. 2017.
2 Gorman, Anna. “Has Overmedicating Seniors Become America’s ‘Other Drug Problem’?” PBS. 30 Aug. 2016.
3 Carr, Teresa. “Too Many Meds? America’s Love Affair With Prescription Medication.” Consumer Reports. 3 Aug. 2017.