UK Addictions expert Professor Oscar D'Agnone reports on the astonishing levels of opioid drug prescribing, and indicates how the fundamental role of the GP impacts rates across Europe.
These painkiller drugs such as codeine formulations (e.g. dihydrocodeine or DHC) may initially be introduced to the patient for conditions such as knee pain. Prof D'Agnone reports that the effectiveness of this medicine at treating this type of pain is debatable, "But the psycho-physiological impact and sense of well-being induced by the drug more than compensates".
Over a short period of time with increased tolerance the patient has to take more drug in order to get the same effect. So, the danger is that you are prescribed a painkiller for a minor ailment, and end up hooked on the product.
According to the 2014 assessment of current and future prescribing of opioid analgesics in Europe the number of Prescription Medication orders by country (NB not including OTC and online orders) were as follows:
France 50.8 million
Germany 81.9 million
UK 38.3 million
One important factor that might explain the lower levels of prescribing in the UK is that the GP is the gatekeeper of all healthcare provision, and patients have to be registered to one GP at any time. Patients therefore have a full primary care record at one GP practice. In France and Germany patients have the ability to visit more than one GP and specialist at any time. Therefore, the patient’s record and prescriptions may not be fully captured.
See - So, if you find that you can't stop taking prescription painkillers, you are certainly not alone, and may need to seek specialist help.