Introduction to Addiction
Drug addiction is an illness where a person can’t stop taking a drug even when it may cause them or others harm. Once addicted, a person can become sick if they don’t get the thing they are addicted to. Addiction is often long lasting and can involve periods of getting better to getting worse and back again. Without treatment, addiction can worsen health and even cause death. There is no cure, but the disease can be managed, and many people can and do recover.
Addiction can be due to drugs, alcohol, and other things. Opioid addictions are on the rise. Opioids include the illegal drug heroin as well as many common prescription medications used for pain such as Norco and Oxycontin. Opioid overdose deaths continue to increase with 130 Americans dying each day.
What a Pharmacist Provides
Pharmacists care for patients and families struggling with addiction in many ways. Some work at medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs specifically designed for patients with addiction. Others work in hospitals and help doctors and nurses to provide care.
Community pharmacists offer patients and family members easy access to advice and referrals to specialists if needed. Also, many pharmacies now carry naloxone – the drug that can reverse the effects of opioids in an overdose situation.