Dr. Reef Karim
Dr. Reef Karim, a physician, psychiatrist and addiction specialist, reveals five things you may not know about drug dependency. Plus, why heroin and prescription drug addictions are so dangerous.

1) People need to recognize that they are consumers and their doctors are their expert advisers. But just like you research a product that you want to buy at the store, you also have to research your physicians and the medications that you are putting in your body. You need to be your own consumer advocate. It's ultimately your job to know what medications you are taking and why. If you have a vulnerability to an addiction, it is your job to tell the doctor this information.

2) Doctors are overprescribing medications. Prescription medications are a good thing and are necessary…but only in limited amounts, unless you have a chronic medical illness. Doctors need to be reminded that certain medications—narcotic analgesics (Vicodin, OxyContin, etc.), stimulants (Adderall, Dexedrine, etc.) and sedative hypnotics (Xanax, Ativan, etc.)—have addictive potential in certain people.

As a medical industry, we need to be regulating medications and only prescribing what is necessary (instead of giving out 120 OxyContins, we should be giving out 15 to 30 and having the patient return). I am a huge fan of initially giving medications but then tapering them down and finding alternative ways to relieve stress, bad mood states, impulsivity, sleep difficulties, etc.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.

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