A physiatrist and pain management specialist analyzes the intricacies of addiction and pain.
In his pain management business, Dr. Oh is vigilant about watching for red flags—signs that a patient may be abusing or becoming addicted to a prescribed medication. He begins his analysis of drug dependence by discussing 10 myths and misconceptions about addiction, citing the misleading and oft-depicted image of an addict in movies or TV, as if the person who is high always “looks inebriated, intoxicated, and half falling asleep.” Oh explains that for most people, the effect of opiates is sedation, though addicts described their initial reactions as “stimulating and energizing.” Oh downplays the idea of an “addictive personality,” feeling that it unfairly blames the victim. “The only thing that predicts whether a person is susceptible to a drug or not is one’s genetics,” he says. “The only way you will know whether you are susceptible to a drug is by the way the drug makes you feel.” Oh explains that it is that initial euphoria that the addict chases—losing jobs, forsaking health, friends and family on the way. Though doctors are aware of the possibility that their patients will become addicted to their pain medications, Oh believes that many doctors choose not to see the signs of addiction. “For most physicians...it is easier to give into the patient’s demand and give him what he wants rather than trying to delve too deep underneath the surface.” The author does a fine job explaining the complex aspects of how the chemistry of the brain is affected by various drugs, including a description of the five known opiate receptors in the brain and the three classes of opiate pain medication. He illustrates his narrative with 20 case studies and synopses of cases of addicts whom Oh treated for pain management, some with positive outcomes, some with negative results. Also included is a helpful glossary as well as information on addiction, which Oh regularly hands out to his own patients.
A fascinating, realistic study of pain management and addiction that offers hope to patients and their families.