He protested loudly and repeatedly said, “I don’t know why you can’t be like all the other docs and just give me the drugs. Everybody does it.” Finally, realizing that he would not get what he wanted, he stormed out after shouting at me: “If you doctors don’t want me taking the drugs, why’d you all give me all those pills after my surgery last year?”
Patients like him are not uncommon in the emergency room. A 2014 study confirmed that from 2001 to 2010, the percentage of emergency room visits during which opioids were prescribed jumped by 10 percent. My patient’s story stuck with me because I was actually able to spend time counseling him instead of caving to his request — and because he had the insight to know that his addiction started with a doctor’s prescription.

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