Thursday, August 3, 2017

Auto Accident and Addiction Risks

Requesting pain management treatment in the wake of a serious personal injury or an auto accident is a decision that comes with risks of addiction. Dolman Law Group is very sensitive and knowledgeable about this. You should not be afraid to address this matter with your lawyer and your doctor. You are already in pain, suffering from injury and want relief.  In the past, addiction was labeled as “Substance Dependence."[1] It is hard to ignore the suggestion of the word dependence: that the patient simply isn’t strong enough to get along without depending on prescription pain killers. There are so many options, alternatives and current data that can be talked about and recommended. [2]

An epidemic of opioid abuse in many of our communities has created victims of this addiction fueled sometimes by an unknowing doctor and a silent client.  We at Dolman Law Group want you to get better and the healing process hastened not hindered by developing an addiction. [3]

Knowledge of the ways that the medical theory of drug addiction has finally changed can help you talk with your doctor about the very real risk of developing or relapsing into a drug addiction when being treated for chronic pain resulting from a personal injury whether it is a slip and fall or an auto accident. The Fifth (most recent) Edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has begun to reflect the physical effects caused on the brain by drug use, which create the compulsion to use that is characteristic of addiction. [4] It states in its introduction to Substance Use Disorders that disorders of this type are characterized by physical changes in the brain, and that the intense drug craving of addiction is connected to those physical changes.[5]

However, drug use does not necessarily lead to addiction. Rather, each person has a unique set of risk factors, as with any other condition, that can indicate that person's likelihood of developing a substance use disorder.[6] Some risk factors for the development of a substance use disorder include a person’s home and social life, age at first use, and method of administration.[7] To receive treatment for pain management that is both safe and effective, your unique set of risk factors should be candidly discussed with your doctor and your lawyer, with an eye to the positive outcome from your pain management treatment.

Additionally, behaviors that are likely to indicate that an addiction has been developed include loss of control, preoccupation with use, and use despite negative consequences.[8] If any of these behaviors develop after treatment has begun, you should bring them up with your doctor and your lawyer, and face head-on the possibility that your treatment may need to be adjusted. This is not fatal to your case but can be a significant factor in the outcome. 

If you have developed an addiction, it is important for you to know that today’s medical community recognizes the treatability, and both your doctor and your personal injury lawyer should be conscientious of the medical needs arising from developing an addiction. However, available treatments can vary widely, and you will need to discuss with your doctor what treatments will be appropriate for your needs. An effective treatment will be backed by scientific evidence, tailored to your individual needs, adaptable to those needs as they change, available to last as long as your recovery requires. [9]

Ultimately, it’s important to know that the changing landscape of medical treatment for addiction means that a caring professional, be it your doctor or your Dolman lawyer, will be receptive to the needs of an individual patient / client, and so will work to prevent a drug addiction from forming in the first place, but will be available to help you through if it does form. As a patient and client you should feel comfortable and confident candidly discussing your fears and your needs, and any symptoms of addiction that arise while being treated for pain management. Your doctor and your lawyer are both under a duty to put your well-being first, and they should work to accommodate all of your medical and legal needs, particularly your pain management needs. Make sure you choose the right lawyers who are knowledgeable, caring and ready to stand up for your total needs. 

-Darryl E. Rouson, Esq.