TV Comercials and Increased Rx Abuse – Might There Be A Connection?

If you watched any amount of TV the past few years you may have noticed a significant increase in commercials hyping prescription medication.  At the same time research is showing that prescription drug abuse and addiction is on the rise, especially among adolescents.  In fact some research reports that prescription dug use is now exceeding other previous drugs of choice with 16-24 year olds.

According to researched published in Pain Physician Journal as recently as 2006, 90 percent of people in the US receiving treatment for pain management were prescribed opiate medication. Of that number 9 percent to 41 percent had opiate abuse/addiction problems. The research also stated that 16 percent of pain management patients experienced illicit drug use along with their prescribed medication, and as high as 34 percent in other research they reviewed. These numbers give a picture of the overall problem of chronic pain abuse/addiction problems in the general population. What is harder to quantify is the extent of this problem in the recovering community.

Should we blame TV for this increase?  Well I don’t think there’s a direct cause and effect, but it sure does support a quick fix mentality that is all too apparent in our culture.  After all if you have a problem all you need to do is pop a pill.

My medical colleagues have complained to me that many of their patients are demanding specific medications that they saw on TV—if it’s advertised on TV it much be safe; for example the commercials advertising Lunesta, a sleep medication.  After all how can such a cute butterfly be dangerous?

A 2008 Johns Hopkins Health Alert that emphasized that it’s not so black and white of an issue as you can see by a portion of that report below.

A study, carried out by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, and the marketing research firm Harris Interactive Inc., found that 72% of the physicians surveyed believed that advertising had increased their patients’ understanding of possible drug treatment.

Another interesting finding: One in four doctor visits spurred by DTC advertising resulted in a new diagnosis. This suggests that advertising may help some people to recognize that they have a treatable health problem.

However, DTC advertising can also cause confusion. In the Harvard-Harris survey, many physicians said that ads often left their patients with a lopsided view of the risks and benefits of medications, with a bias toward potential benefits. The FDA survey, too, concluded that people tended to view drugs they learned about through these ads as more effective than they actually were.

For a look at this complete Health Alert please Click Here; then search for Direct To Consumer Drug Ads.

The next time you’re watching TV pay attention to the pharmaceutical commercials and decide for yourself if there is a connection.

To learn about two skill trainings coming up in Sacramento California designed to teach treatment strategies for people living with chronic pain and coexisting disorders including disorders including addiction please Click Here.

To learn more about my thoughts on prescription drug problems, please read my article Addressing the Problem of Prescription Drug Abuse/Addiction that you can download for free on our Ariticles page.


You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website If you are living with chronic pain, especially if you’re in recovery or believe you may have a medication problem and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing your pain and medication effectively, please go to our Publications page and check out my book the Addiction-Free Pain Management® Recovery Guide: Managing Pain and Medication in Recovery. To purchase this book please Click Here.

To listen to a radio interview I did conducted by Mary Woods for her program One Hour at a Time please Click Here to go to this interview.

To read the latest issue of Chronic Pain Solutions Newsletter please Click here. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, please Click here and input your name and email address. You will then recieve an autoresponse email that you need to reply to in order to finalize enrollment.

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