Some Drug Users Desperate, May Resort to Pet Medications
According to officials, people who are suffering from opioid dependence are becoming so desperate they are turning to pet medications.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan, from a Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association newsletter:
“The misuse of pet medication has serious safety implication – for people and animals. Educating people about the signs of drug misuse, available treatment resources and how to properly store and dispose of all medications is a crucial part of helping to stem the tide of overdoses and death.”
In the letter, Ryan said she only became aware of the issue when she met a pet owner who couldn’t understand why her pet was in pain, despite prescribed medication. It turned out that a family member had been pilfering the animal’s drugs:
“It suddenly became clear why the pet had not been getting better.”
The trend, however, does appear to be relatively new, and no studies or statistics are yet available. Cases may be rare, or more common that we think. Pet medications are tough to keep track of, and can be easily taken by humans from sick animals.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to see the same medications prescribed to both animals and humans – mainly, the dose differs.
At present, veterinary officials and law enforcement are planning an outreach campaign aimed at the education of veterinarians.
In her letter, Ryan cautioned veterinarians to take notice of clients attempting to fill prescriptions too early, or insist on getting a prescription before the animal is examined.
Moreover, veterinarians need to be wary of clients who start seeking drugs without evidence that their pet needs them – and also learn about others who may be living in the client’s home, or will have access to those drugs. For example, those struggling with issues related to addiction or chronic pain.
In addition, the veterinarian association is reported to be working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to create educational materials for veterinarians to hand out along with medications given to pets.
This education would be similar in content to what human patients receive – information on how to store, consume, and safely dispose of medications.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology