By Neelam Rahim
Painkillers, sleeping tablets, tranquillizers – doctors prescribe them, and pharmacists dispense them every day. Still, many suffering from pain, insomnia, or anxiety are at risk from a “hidden pandemic” of addiction to prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This is the warning from the South African Society of Psychiatrists. The focus is on prescription drug addiction in Drug Awareness Week. This drug addiction is a growing problem worldwide, with South Africa not immune. Radio Islam discusses with pain management expert and SASOP member Dr Shaquir Salduker
Dr Shaquir says, “In addiction or substance abuse problems only linked to illicit drugs, most people see nothing wrong in using over the counter prescription medication. No, I mean that’s’ a big fallacy. Addiction is a broad concept that incorporates illicit drugs, prescription drugs, activities like gambling and sex and weight loss and all sorts of things that people become irrationally dependent on or irrationally practiced. It’s’ a broad category.”
“So the two concepts that define addiction is tolerance and dependence. Tolerance means where you need to do more and more or have more and more to get the same pleasure or high. And dependency is where if you stop, you develop what is called withdrawal symptoms. So those two fundamental features determine what an addiction is,” says Dr Shaquir.
Dr Shaquir also says, “When we talk about prescription drugs, we’re’ talking mostly about drugs that are prescribed by doctors or dispensed at pharmacies as over the counter preparation. Most commonly things like painkillers that have codeine in them. And usually the warning signs are where you are taking them, not for the desired effect. In other words, if you had an injury and you need something for three to four days, but you carryon taking it for weeks and months thereafter, so it’s’ irrational use, its disproportionate use and also where if you don’t’ get it, you feel uncomfortable. So if you’re’ not able to get hold of the tablet that you’re’ taking, you feel physically uncomfortable, you feel mentally irritable and grumpy. So usually these are signs that you become dependent on them and you’re’ developing what is called mini withdrawal type symptoms and you don’t’ have them. Most people are unaware of why they’re’ feeling what they’re’ feeling. If you’re’ using, it not for the desired effect, but some rationalized reason that you’ve’ made up, usually that’s’ a sign that you are now dependent on these preparations.”
For more about this, listen to Radio Islam’s podcast below.