According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. The American Academy of Pain Medicine reports that worldwide, 1.5 billion people suffer from this condition as well. Chronic pain is a condition that has a number of causes, yet is defined as being pain that impacts the central nervous system for anywhere from weeks to years at a time. Many individuals who experience chronic pain report symptoms including fatigue, withdrawal from physical activity, decreased immune system, irritability, sleeplessness, depression, and anxiety. Chronic pain can be caused by a number of things, including physical injury, infection, and surgery, as well as conditions like cancer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, nerve damage, and tissue damage, to name a few.
Suffering from a chronic pain condition is incredibly difficult and trying, as the above listed symptoms and struggles explain. While many individuals get their chronic pain treated by a professional who supervises their care, many individuals grappling with this condition take matters into their own hands, and look for external methods of self-medication. As a result, illegal purchases of prescription painkillers can occur, and those who are seeking out these opioid-based medications for some relief can put themselves at risk for developing additional challenges if they become addicted to them.
While an addiction (which is clinically known as a substance use disorder) can develop in response to trying to manage chronic pain, it can also stem from other environmental and genetic issues. For instance, those who are addicted to prescription painkillers might have suffered experiences including childhood neglect or abuse, poverty, trauma, or more, or who possess certain biological factors such as having a parent or sibling who has grappled with addiction. Either way, the draw to prescription pills can still occurs.
The Popularity of the Prescription Pill Pipeline
Florida is one state that is seeing an incredible amount of individuals who are suffering from chronic pain and substance use disorders come through Broward County. Here, there are dozens of pain clinics spanning Interstate 75 that are providing individuals with prescription painkillers in exchange for a handful of cash and a no questions asked policy.
With the prescription painkiller epidemic running rampant through the country, it can be hard to believe that something like this is even allowed to exist in broad daylight. However, it is a pocket of the country that is highly appealing to many, including many Kentucky residents who make the drive to these pill mills to obtain some pain relief and/or achieve a recreational high.
This strand of open-to-the-public pill mills will offer prescription drugs such as oxycodone for a couple dollars per pill. Many customers will go to the shop, purchase these pills, and then sell them for a higher rate on the street. As a result, the continual spread of prescription painkiller addiction is rapidly growing in this area and in the areas that shoppers return home to. Others will purchase the pills to continue to fuel their addiction or self-medication efforts.
Those who venture through the doors of these pill mills include individuals who are looking to self-medicate physical pain, those who are supporting an already established addiction or abuse problem, and those who are looking to make a profit through external dealing.
Sadly, however, Florida has the spotlight on them as they are criticized for not making any moves to prevent this cyclical pattern from continuing.
How Did We Get Here?
The laws in Florida have made it simple for these pill mills to start up, spread, and impact not only this state, but other states such as Kentucky as well. For years, Florida has been behind many other states when it comes to prescription painkiller regulations. For example, the Sunshine State has not enlisted the help of electronic prescription drug monitoring devices that can help prevent individuals from doctor shopping for more prescription medications. The state has also lacked in its efforts to punish those prescribing physicians who abuse their powers to prescribe. Currently, Florida’s medical-licensure board is the seventh worst in the country. Additionally, until recently, Florida allowed convicted criminals to open up pain clinics.
These laws have laid the groundwork for a rapidly growing prescription painkiller problem to thrive. While Florida has now revamped many of its laws, including preventing convicted criminals from opening pain clinics and instilling the use of electronic prescription drug monitoring devices, many believe that the damage is already done. For instance, it is reported that prescription drug-related deaths have dramatically increased in Kentucky, as have cases of prescription painkiller addiction. This, according to many law enforcement officials, is believed to be because of the pill mill pipeline that is up and running out of Broward County, Florida.
When a powerhouse of painkillers infiltrates the general population, people with many different interests will come out to get their hands on some. For obvious reasons, those who are struggling with chronic pain might work to obtain these medications so they can finally achieve some relief. Those who have suffered an environmental or genetic predisposition that has led to the development of an addiction might come out in droves. There are millions of individuals who struggle with these conditions, making it possible for the system to be infiltrated with illicit abuse of these powerful medications that can be found at pain clinics like those in Florida.
At Park Royal Behavioral Health Services, we are dedicated to helping you or a loved one overcome an addiction to prescription painkillers, as well as work through the issues that have caused this behavior to grow and persist. To learn more about the programming we offer and how we can help, please reach out to us right now. We look forward to answering any and all of your questions.