Tuesday, 31 Jul 12
This week we meet the everyday people who have become unwitting addicts.
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Prescriptions for some pain-killers and anti-anxiety medications have jumped over the past decade, particularly for the drugs Oxycontin and Xanax.
The medications are very effective. Scores of people use them successfully to alleviate excruciating pain after a car accident, or to dampen crippling feelings of anxiety and panic.
But more and more patients are finding themselves addicted to these drugs, even when they follow the doctor's instructions to the letter.
Where does the blame lie? Are the drugs simply too powerful for patients to administer themselves? Are doctors over prescribing? Are patients at fault for putting too much pressure on GPs to write them a script so they can walk away with a pill that will fix things?
Or is there too much complexity and too little coordination in our health system which means patients are falling through the cracks?
The Federal Government has committed $5 million to set up so-called 'real-time monitoring' which could address some flaws in the current system, such as the ability of patients to "doctor shop" to obtain addictive medications. But there's confusion amongst the medicos and the various state governments as to when the system will actually be rolled out.
This week, accidental addicts bravely take to the stage to tell their stories in front of a room full of doctors and pain experts.
Producer: Sarah Bamford
Associate Producers: Hannah Meagher and Kyle Taylor
Meet the Guests