New Game Helps Doctors Help Addicts
The epidemic of prescription drug abuse has kicked a lot of doctors into action. Among the preventive measure set up, the newest (and coolest) is a video game designed to train doctors to identify deceptive behavior by people likely to abuse prescription painkillers.
Video Game Helps Doctors Discover Hints of Prescription Abuse
Designed by Dr. Michael F. Fleming at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, this video game draws on technology used by the F.B.I. to train agents in interrogation tactics. Since addiction is a difficult subject to broach, physicians often feel uncomfortable and put on the spot when assessing their patients who might be asking for prescription medications. Doctors constantly tread a fine line: it’s their job to treat people’s pain, but they do not want to enable drug abuse.
This web-based interactive video game is designed to teach doctors to look for warning signs of drug abuse (i.e. a family history of problems), and nonverbal signs (i.e. nervousness), and offers suggestions of approaches and responses to difficult patients.
Something this brilliant, of course, comes with a hefty price tag: $50/hour. But the software company expects the product to have a pretty wide audience appeal. Software developer Dale E. Olsen believes that besides doctors, customers will include medical schools as well as private and government health care providers.
Doctors Shouldn’t Stand Alone
As much as the medical professionals are doing to prevent prescription addiction, their impact of preventive measures reaches only so far. Doctors may be the ones prescribing the drugs, but 70% of prescription drug abusers get them from a family member or a friend, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
This is one of those battles that can be fought only if everyone fights together. As a family member or a friend, you have a duty to protect those you care about from prescription drug addiction just as much as the physicians and pharmacists.
Two Easy Tips to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
1. Dispose of medication properly.
Whether it’s expired, unwanted, or unused, get rid of it so friends and kids--especially teens--can’t get at them. To safely dispose the medications,
- Follow disposal instructions on the label.
- Find a medicine take-back program. They will safely dispose of medication program. See a list of drop off locations in the Bay Area and surrounding cities.
- Mix medicine with something gross (kitty litter or coffee grounds) and throw it in the trash can.
- Seal the mixed medicine in a plastic bag to prevent leaking and throw it trash.
- Flush the medication down the sink or toilet, if it is on the list of medicines acceptable for flushing.
2. Don’t share medications.
The doctor prescribed it specifically for you, so it’s yours. Simple enough, but most people don’t follow this. You never know what they’ll do with it (or how the medication will affect them).