NEW YORK, Oct. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to further address the nation's opiate addiction crisis, the three-time Emmy® award-winning, The Dr. Oz Show, jointly with the American Academy of Academy of Family Physicians and the American Dental Association will issue a wallet size card as part of Monday's show containing five crucial questions people should ask if they are prescribed an opiate pain killer. Because death from drug overdose has now surpassed traffic accidents as the leading cause of death for people under 50, The Dr. Oz Show reached out to major medical groups to collaborate on developing content that would educate viewers on the proper use of opiates and the risks with these medications. There are currently 1.9 million people in America addicted to prescription opiates, and research suggests four out of five heroin addicts began their addiction with a prescription opiate.
"We need to change the way we think about opiate prescriptions and we need everyone to do their part in managing the risk with these powerful medicines," said Mehmet Oz, M.D. host. "The reality is that many doctors who prescribe opiates for sound medical reasons, myself included, do not have the extensive training on proper patient screening and risk management."
Opiate prescriptions are a group of medications that historically have been used in medicine to successfully treat pain for over 150 years. They include major analgesics such as morphine and fentanyl. Oral medications containing oxycodone and hydrocodone are often prescribed to treat acute pain and post dental procedure pain and are very effective. However, without a proper screening discussion of a patient's personal and family history as well a comprehensive warning about the risks of opiate medication, adverse reactions like acute addiction and accidental overdose are common.
As physicians and dentists address the risks through continuing education, The Dr. Oz Show is advising viewers how to have a conversation about these prescriptions with a doctor, nurse, dentist or pharmacist in an effort to reduce their risk of harm.
"Pain is very real. It's very different from person to person, and we need to take a good sense of that person and who they are within the context of their family and their community… opiates should be the last resort. There are many other things to think about for pain and sometimes I think that we've under-utilized those," said Wanda Filer, M.D. president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
"It is important to remember that everyone's risk factors for addiction vary so its important to speak to your dentist about any prescription you receive for pain and to address your risks," said Ada S. Cooper, DDS, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association.
Also in Monday's show is former congressman Patrick Kennedy whose new book "A Common Struggle" details his personal journey from acute chronic alcoholism and cocaine addiction to recovery as well as his lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder. Kennedy engages Dr. Oz in a passionate discussion about how his own personal experience with addiction motivated him to work tirelessly for social change to diminish the stigma around addiction and mental illness and mandate that behavioral health receive equal reimbursement and protection under the law. Kennedy also reveals deeply personal details from conversations with his father, six term Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy about coming to terms with his alcoholism and working on legislation together in Congress around addiction issues.